As published by The Daily Express:
Children’s Parliament debates opened at 5pm on Friday with a disarmingly candid question from a primary school pupil to world leaders on whether they truly considered the opinions of future generations in their decisions at the COP26 Climate Change conference.
When asked by a child MP from St Pierre’s School in Southend whether the world leaders gathering in Glasgow, and UK MPs, “will listen to our views and care about them,” Conservative MP David Davis responded to the virtual panel: “The simple truth is yes.” Eva, an 11-year-old pupil in Sir David Amess’s constituency, asked the veteran MP: “Do you think they really believe that children of our age deserve a say in these huge decisions?”
The child added: “Do you think world leaders at COP26 and MPs in our own Government will listen to our views and care about them?”
Mr Davis, former Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, replied: “We argue amongst ourselves an enormous amount, but if you want to get people [in the Commons] all on one side, the way to do it is to talk about the future of our children.”
“We, all of us, love our children dearly, we all want them to have great lives, and we are, therefore, very concerned about what they believe and what they want.”
Mr Davis then referred to teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, who he said has “has a spectacular impact for so young a person.”
He explained to the Children’s Parliament that the closest target identified by COP26 was at the end of this decade, but that many stretched further into the future.
He said: “This is for you. This is all about you.
“This is because you care about this.”
He added that measures taken and discussed at COP26 had a minimal impact on the lives of those of his generation, but a much great influence over the futures of the participating children.
“We have to pay attention to what you want, what you need, and where you’re going.”
He said that choosing to hold the Children’s Parliament around the time of COP26 in Glasgow signalled to world leaders that children’s concerns lay with climate change, “the future of the planet, and the future of everybody on the planet.”
The Children’s Parliament is a virtual debate streamed on Express.co.uk, partnered with online education platform Wakelet.
It is a fully-fledged Parliamentary debate, with half of the children representing Her Majesty’s Government and the other Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.
Earlier on Friday, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, addressed the Child MPs: “In my view, people can’t start early enough to get involved in democracy. That’s why the Children’s Parliament is a great initiative.”
He advised the children to speak out and make themselves heard, making their mark at a young age on a political stage ready to listen to their thoughts.
He concluded by looking to their futures, saying: “Hopefully, we will see some of you on the green benches in the future. Or even the next Prime Minister.”
This follows the current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, welcoming viewers and the child MPs chosen from across the country to “this incredible, online Children’s Parliament,” with just “moments to go” before the climate change summit hosted by the UK begins on Sunday.
He called COP26 the “most important summit, certainly, in my lifetime,” which will aim to address and reduce rising greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming and climate change.
He added: “What we will be discussing matters for everyone on this planet, but for our children, and our grandchildren, it matters even more.”
Listening to children’s voices on key issues was something close to the heart of the late Sir David Amess MP, who was murdered earlier this month during a constituency surgery,
He was a champion of the Children’s Parliament, believing it was “important their views are noticed and given a platform for debate, not least so the youngsters themselves have the opportunity to listen to and learn from their peers.”
In his speech, the Prime Minister paid tribute to the late Conservative MP, “whose passion and determination helped make this project happen.”
Rounding off his words for the child MPs, Mr Johnson said: “To all those taking part, I say: your voice matters, because it’s you, and your generation to come, that will, one day, inherit the Earth.”