“We refuse to settle for anything less than the phase-out of all fossil fuels”

Date: 13 December 2023

YMCA delegation of 16 at COP 28 speaks out

What we feel after COP 28

As the curtain falls on COP 28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on 13 December 2023, our collective determination to combat climate change has grown fiercer. Yet, the absence of a decisive commitment to phase out fossil fuels is a stark disappointment, a pivotal battleground for our success in this critical endeavour.

In solidarity with YOUNGO (‘Youth + NGO’, the official children’s and young people’s constituency within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCC), we unequivocally call for a comprehensive, fair, and equitable termination of all fossil fuels and their associated subsidies, refusing to settle for anything less. Regrettably, COP 28 fell short in delivering the requisite and just funding essential for such a transformative phase-out, neglecting the urgent needs of Global South nations.


If we are to tackle the roots of this challenge, we advocate for the cancellation of debt and a radical overhaul of the international financial system, a transformation that echoes in the corridors of our economic structure.

On the positive side
Delegate Lester Dellosa from the YMCA of the Philippines.

COP 28 achieved a commendable consensus among nations to preserve the 1.5C-degree target that by 2100, the world’s average surface temperature will have risen to no more than 1.5C warmer than pre-industrial levels. Every nation must now take the necessary measures to honour this commitment.

Despite the fact that the language on National Determined Contributions (NDCs) was stronger than it had ever been, it remains imperative to underscore that the wording centres on a phase-down, not a complete phase-out. We need a phase-out, in order to reach our 1.5C target. Nations agreed on moving away from fossil fuels and reaching zero emissions by 2050: however, this necessitates a profound transformation of the international financial system, demanding a serious shift in how we handle money.

In a world burdened with so many, so complex challenges and so uncertain a future for young people, the global youth empowerment organisation that is the YMCA stands in unwavering solidarity with young people globally. Our frustration, disheartenment, and disappointment deepen as powerful institutions, both within and beyond our governments, fall short of prioritising climate justice on a global scale.

We went into COP 28 with a clear YMCA Manifesto advocating for three things:  phasing out fossil fuels, ensuring a just transition, and investing in youth-led solutions. We will continue to advocate these principles until these priorities are reached in every community and every corner of the world.

In Dubai, the YMCA team of 16 people was able to connect with young people from around the world, expand ideas, form new partnerships and share more knowledge about COP with people across the globe. In these outcomes, we find success and see hope – as young people shed their global differences to come together and act in the interest of everyone and everything.

In solidarity with young people and their families everywhere, we will continue to amplify young people’s demands for climate justice and a sustainable planet.

A message from the YMCA to leaders worldwide: for our societies and our young people to thrive, you must put climate justice at the heart of your transition policies.


What we did at COP28

We chose a team of 16 people from across the global YMCA Movement, coached them and coordinated them throughout the 12-day event. We brought young people together from the following countries and made lifelong connections:

  • Canada
  • China
  • Ethiopia
  • Ireland
  • Kosovo
  • Hong Kong
  • Palestine
  • Philippines
  • Peru
  • Romania
  • Senegal
  • South Korea
  • Uruguay
  • USA

We issued a Manifesto outlining our policy positions and summarising just some of the practical work being done by YMCAs worldwide to work for a Sustainable Planet.

We issued  short videos from the Conference on Instagram and Facebook:

While we shared our experiences at COP primarily through videos and stories, we also shared team photos on the World YMCA Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and X platforms, including the news that news agency Reuters interviewed Killian Abellon of YMCA Canada.

In addition, we were able to share: Tudor Rus’ perspective on young people’s role at COP; Delegate panel on COP experience; Ylli Alija of YMCA Kosovo; World Bank Youth Challenge; Meeting with Generation Unlimited; inside look with Amy Wolf; and delegates at the Youth Pavilion.

We advocated at the conference, with our team members participating in and speaking at events and demonstrations.

We built and expanded a network of young people with several organisations and movements.

We learned more about how we can be greater assets of change and the work it will take for us to become a better advocate for the voice of young people and marginalised communities around the world.

Demonstrations for climate justice at COP28.