Beyond COP26

COP26 was the 26th annual summit of the United Nations climate change conference. It recently took place in Glasgow, Scotland from October 31 to November 12. Nearly 200 nations, world leaders, activists, citizens, organizations, businesses and more gathered to create solutions to tackle climate change.

The goals were to figure out how to cut major global emissions, support the most vulnerable countries affected by rapid climate change and increase the implementation of necessary climate policy. Overall, the countries came to a consensus that they will do more to fight climate change, and they will strengthen their existing plans to address these issues that affect the Earth more than we realize.

In recent years, climate change has come to the forefront of global conversations as more and more people understand the urgency this issue poses. People were looking to the COP26 summit for hope and for actions governments will take. Many, including myself, were left feeling frustrated and disheartened at the lack of progress that has been made. It is nothing new to see politicians make promises that they do not plan on fulfilling. They convey the impression that they care about critical issues, but the outcomes of these conferences show an inadequate progress being made to address them.

The goals set will not curb emissions fast enough or acknowledge the emergency we are facing. There is little international cooperation, and countries’ advance agendas that serve their own national interests as well as the interests of the fossil fuel industry. Furthermore, there is no accountability or enforcement of the goals being set, so why would they come to fruition? After all, there is a conflict of interest.

The anger and passion that filled many people caused them to take to the streets outside of the conference in protest, standing up and demanding more. We organize and fight for our future because our “leaders” will not. World leaders, governments and these conferences will not solve the climate crisis because we need more than negotiating for the bare minimum.

We need bold action with climate solutions that are accessible to all. Every day, climate change mitigation becomes more critical. We need to cut emissions, shift to a greener low-carbon economy, invest in clean jobs, improve health and create a future that includes equity, justice and inclusion.

There has never been a clear agreement on how to tackle climate change, but that is okay. It is a complex issue, so we need a multitude of solutions. The solution lies in cities and states, where progress is achievable on a smaller scale; Indigenous communities, poor impoverished groups around the world and youth are experiencing the strongest effects of climate change and have been on the frontlines. The solutions might be unexpected and come from unexpected places, but we have to believe in them.

I believe we are capable of making the changes that are necessary, but I will not rely on COP26 or any world leader to safeguard our future. We must take change into our own hands.

-Ela Mody ’23

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