This year marks the 26th year of the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The Conference of the Parties (COP), is in Glasgow to discuss how the global community can pull together to address the serious threat to the planet. Could COP26 be our very last chance to change? The climate crisis clock is now one minute to midnight. This is no time for empty promises. We need to stop the clock!
Why is COP26 so important?
To understand the global significance of COP26, it’s necessary to look back at the extraordinary events that took place at the COP21 meeting in Paris, 2015. For the very first time in history, every single country agreed to work together to keep global warming under 2 degrees. In what is now known as The Paris Agreement, each country has pledged to bring forward national plans to reduce emissions and make funds available for the specific purpose of tackling climate change.
The aim of the Paris Agreement was to reduce global warming to 1.5 degrees with an overall goal of net-zero emissions.
The climate crisis turning point
Despite the good intentions laid out in the Paris Agreement, we are nowhere near our target of 1.5 degrees. The effects of the climate crisis can be seen from the wildfires in the US and Australia to power outages in Lebanon. Biodiversity is decreasing at an alarmingly rapid rate. The window to reduce the emissions and achieve those 1.5 degrees is closing and crucial changes need to be agreed upon and implemented in the next decade to avoid global disaster. UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, warns “We really are out of time. We must act now to prevent further irreversible damage. COP26, this November, must mark that turning point.”
Earlier in the year, Truthpaste looked closer to home to where the effects of the climate crisis have been visible for some time. More recently we highlighted the issue in the amount of household waste that we alone, as a city, could visibly generate. But whilst on a community level, we can implement small but meaningful changes, there needs to be a concerted and honest effort from world leaders, large conglomerates, and those in positions of power if we are to reverse the effects of global warming in time.
A unique opportunity
The world is still reeling from the effects of the global pandemic, the devastating effects and repercussions are still very much part of our lives. However, Alok Sharma, COP President-Designate claims that this now presents us with a “historic opportunity to tackle climate change...to build back better, and greener”. He suggests that with investments in groundbreaking technologies we should be producing less carbon than we take out of the air (net zero) in the latter half of the century.
Let’s hold Leaders to their word!
It’s easy to feel helpless when considering the massive scale of the climate crisis. The immense cooperation that needs to happen to begin to stop the destruction can be overwhelming.
Here are a few things you can do to make your voice heard.
1. Learn the plan
Each country in the G20 will have put together a plan to reduce its contribution to global pollution. Look into those pledges. On a general level, these are:
- Secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
- Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
- Mobilise finance
- Work together to deliver
You can learn what your country is pledging in order to meet goals. Local and central governments are responsible for implementing the necessary adjustments that are agreed upon as a result of COP26. It is up to us to know what those adjustments are and to put pressure on leaders to deliver on their global pledges.
2. Listen in live
We live in a digital age and therefore various platforms exist to follow the events of COP26. Over a two-week period, you can follow discussions and negotiations on everything from Transport to Public Empowerment. Find an area that you care deeply about and you can follow the discussion on the platform of your choice.
3. Put pressure on your MP
Your MP is there to make sure that your voice is heard. You can write to them to find out what they are doing to put pressure on the current government to make changes. You can find out what your local constituency is doing to support greener living. Anything from transport to refuse collection can make a difference to the environment.
4. Spread the word
Raising awareness is one of the easiest things you could do to help. The conference is widely reported in most news outlets. There is a whole host of information that is readily available and at the forefront of the news right now. It's a great time to learn and share.
5. Be the change you want to see.
Yes, it might sound cheesy but leading by example and starting small does help. Showing friends and family how easy it is to make small but significant lifestyle changes should never be underestimated. Whether it's tips for going zero-waste or look into how to recycle responsibly you can lead the way in showing how it's done!
Jürg Luterbacher et al. United in Science 2021 report: A multi-organization high-level compilation of the latest climate science information, Accessed October 2021
WMO, 2020: The State of the Global Climate 2020
COP 26 explained <https://ukcop26.org/> Accessed October 2021