The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP) recently took place between October 31st, ending on November 12th. The conference serves as a place where over 200 countries send representatives to discuss climate change, negotiate, and pledge ways countries plan on minimizing their global emissions. This year the conference was held in Glasgow, Scotland, where the U.K, and cabinet minister Alok Sharma took the role as president of the conference. A important topic of U.Ks COP was the Paris Agreement, a document signed by all countries at the COP conference in 2015 that stated countries would create and execute plans to greatly cut emissions by 2030. In addition, discussions regarding coal reduction, electric vehicles, deforestation and alternative power solutions were all topics during the conference.
This conference was significant for many reasons. For one, increasing amounts of attention were placed on youth voices this year. Voices like Oluwaseji Moejo (20 year old activist from Nigeria) and Lina Yassin (23 year old activist from Sudan) were much more common and prominent during the convention. Additionally, there was significant discussion about developing countries who need financial aid to combat how they are affected by climate change, and how they will plan on minimizing emissions. Previously (according to the Paris Agreement) leaders of developed countries had tried to raise 100bn a year to help finance less developed countries, however, as of the COP26 conference this promise has not been met. In response to this, and as a larger goal this year, the U.K stated that countries will have the 100bn by 2023 and 500bn by 2025, another promise that if met will certainly assist developing countries that are detrimentally affected by climate change.
This year’s COP reflected the ways in which many countries are not living up to their word. Vanessa Nakate, a climate change activist from Uganda, talked at the conference about world leaders’ failure to implement plans stated at the 2015 conference to cut emissions. In fact, since the 2015 conference global COP output has risen by one billion metric tons annually. This fact outlines one thing that the COP is lacking: accountability. Since countries solely go to the COP to pledge ideas on how they will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there is no real pressure on any country to actually implement these laws. Subsequently, this leads to Countries’ discussions at the COP of what they’re planning on doing, only to implement none of those ideas upon return to their given country. One example of this is China, whose greenhouse gas emissions output has risen 20% since 2010. This is especially damaging considering the limited amount of time we have left to counteract global climate damages. According to the COP itself, we have until 2050 to make humanity green before we begin experiencing radical climate change. Jennifer Eison, a delegate for the U.S, says that we are living in a generation that will truly be affected by climate change unless we do something to combat it. It is with these time restrictions in mind that it is important that all of us do our part and hold leaders accountable for their environmental goals.
This is an incredibly significant topic because of how much climate change is going to affect our generation specifically. Climate change, global warming, deforestation, overfishing and habitat destruction are just some of the problems that we will face as we grow up. It is because of this that having an understanding of how we affect our climate is so valuable. By learning about our climate in school as we grow up we will be able to do what the COP is struggling with today: implementing plans and holding each other accountable.