A young climate activist reflects on COP26

What happened at the climate change conference in Glasgow earlier this month and will it make any difference?
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two protesters hold a sign which reads 'there is no planet b' cop26

When I first heard about global warming as a child It absolutely terrified me. When adults would talk about ‘Climate Change’, ‘Holes in the Ozone’ and ‘Greenhouse gases’ I would stick my hands tightly over my ears and scream lalalala to block it out. 

I think it’s funny that 10 odd years later people from around the world seem to be doing the same thing I did as a child. Except they aren’t children, they are adults; world leaders, politicians, CEO’s and everyday people alike.  

They aren’t afraid of climate change, they’re just not willing to do enough to prevent it, even as the damage it causes becomes more alarming, increased, and evident. It’s not 5 minutes to midnight anymore, in places like Madagascar in the global south it IS midnight. 

COP26 was supposed to do something to fix it, but if delegates couldn’t even agree to phase out coal then what’s the point?  

Collective movement needed

With climate change, we’re often told that there’s only so much one person can do and that one person can’t stop climate change and that it has to be a collective movement from companies, countries and multinational corporations to eliminate fossil fuels and emissions.  

And I agree, no matter how many swaps to bamboo toothbrushes, compostable coffee cups or bus journeys I make, my emission reductions will make very little, if any difference.

Does this mean that people can’t stop climate change only companies and countries can? Except that’s just not true is it? Behind those companies, and behind the countries there are people just like me and you.  Those are the people in power who have not done enough to stop climate change. 

Angry and confused

At COP26 if the fossil fuel industries were a country it would have by far the most delegates. A lot of people were angry about this but I wasn’t, I thought that if the fossil fuel industry was the biggest polluter it would make sense that they would go to the conference, to tackle climate change, to learn about what it needs to do to stop climate change. 

I thought it was a good sign that finally after decades of inaction the fast food industry is finally going to do something to stop climate change but I was wrong really wrong, the people representing the fossil fuel industry did not go to COP26 to stop climate change they went to COP26 to slow down action on climate change. 

I’m angry and confused and I have every right to be because climate change didn’t happen overnight, we’ve known about it for years long before Greta Thunberg started striking, but at this stage, it feels like nothing is going to be done until it’s too late. The clock is ticking, the world is watching and the planet is dying.

Stopping climate change is not an essay you can just hand up late and get docked a few marks for tardiness, it’s something we should have done yesterday but need to do now because the clock is ticking and we are running out of time.

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