"A game show at the end of the world" the currency of youth in UN climate summitry

Laura Bullon-Cassis

What do the lived experiences of young people tell us about the currency of youth in United Nations (UN) climate summitry, at a time in which youth is endowed with symbolic capital? Initially, self-representing as ‘youth’ in and around UN climate summits appears to open doors for young people, particularly since the creation of additional youth engagement mechanisms that followed the 2019 Fridays for Future protests. Based on four years of fieldwork, this article shows that youth can be both a limited and limiting currency in global climate politics. Indeed, the currency is finite, leading different youth groups to compete for speaking slots and visibility. Further, an increasing amount of young people have come to realize that youth is a limiting currency to advocate for environmental justice claims. These findings, which would not have been possible without an ethnographic and collaborative approach, contribute to existing calls challenging the ways that theory, research, and practice are oriented toward young people in climate politics.