ONCE again the world is watching Paris. In the shadow of the terrorist attacks on the 13th of last month, this week marks the twenty first meeting of national governments, NGOs and civil society groups, coming together with the aim of reaching an agreement about how to stop climate change.

After 21 years of failed negotiations, no one is optimistic that leaders will deliver the tough, legally binding global deal that is needed to seriously tackle climate change in a just and fair way. So why am I in Paris?

What hope do we have?

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I’ve travelled to Paris from Scotland with a 20-strong youth delegation from around the UK, joining thousands of young people from hundreds of countries who are here to hold their governments to account. We demand that world leaders listen to us and take action because we are the ones who will be affected the most by climate change. It is our future that is at stake.

Climate change made one of its rare media appearances one month ago when a report was released highlighting that the earth has already warmed by an average of one degree.

This apparently tiny amount is already being linked to sea level rise, flooding and droughts across the world.

World leaders have agreed that two degrees should be the limit of average global warming. At the same time, they continue to let fossil fuel companies pump tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, with the full knowledge that this is exacerbating the climate crisis.

Yet there are seeds of hope.

It has been absolutely inspiring to see thousands of climate marches happening all across the world. I wasn’t in Edinburgh for Scotland’s Climate March on Saturday but there were thousands of people there, marching in solidarity to call for climate justice. Here in Paris, the planned climate march before the climate talks began was not allowed to go ahead for security reasons. Even so, the alternative display of thousands of pairs of shoes on Place de la Republique was a sombre but creative way for those of us concerned about this issue to show their support.

Likewise, another source of hope and inspiration has been a massive youth-run conference here in Paris over the past few days that I’ve been taking part in. It has brought together thousands of young people who are fighting climate change in their countries. I’ve met people from low-lying Pacific Islands who are fighting mining, and indigenous youth who are battling tar sands extraction in

Northern Canada. We have swapped stories, strategies and plans on how to force fossil fuel companies to stop their destructive extraction and burning of our precious resources.

Scotland offers another glimmer of hope. The Scottish Government has listened to its citizens in the past – when we united with one voice to call The time for governments to listen to us has arrived for ambitious climate change targets that told the world that Scotland was proud to play its part in responding to the global climate crisis. Next year, the people of Scotland have another choice to make.

The Scottish Government will ask us whether we want to go down the route of fracking and unconventional gas that will usher in decades of dirty, polluting energy, or to stand up and admit that we cannot continue burning fossil fuels if we want a just future for all our neighbours on this planet.

As the world looks to Paris over these next two weeks, there will be much empty talk from shallow politicians.

Words will not save us.

Instead, we must look beyond what world leaders can offer, and fight fossil fuel extraction in our own backyard. The enormous display of public concern across the globe this weekend sends a clear message to leaders about what is expected. Those that have marched will also now continue the climate fight in their own country, holding governments to account for what they agree to, in Paris.

Felicity Monk is a Scottish member of the UK Youth Climate Coalition


Profile: The march of thousands to save the planet's climate