Monday, 22 November 2021

COP26: report from GLASGOW by ANNA R.*

The global temperature anomaly 1900-present,
12-month running average in degrees Celcius,

When I booked a ticket for the last day of the COP26 climate summit I was excited. The conference was divided into two zones: the Blue Zone, which hosted the negotiations, and the Green Zone, which was open to the general public. We got tickets to the Green Zone. Leading up to my visit, news coverage was not optimistic. People had a lot of criticism and protesters gathered to demand action. By the time I was on the train to Glasgow, my expectations for the day were low.

We took an electric bus from the train station to the Glasgow Science Centre where the Green Zone was. The public transport was free for everyone registered to attend COP26. Once there, my friends and I walked around, looked at the exhibitions and watched a planetarium show about the Earth and the rising temperature. I was positively surprised by how many companies had stalls and showed how committed they were to tackling climate change through various ways, such as using renewable energy and reducing waste. When we left the centre I felt optimistic and protective of the environment and the planet.

As we took the train back from Glasgow in the evening, the negotiations continued in overtime. Although my general impression of the Green Zone was positive, I do worry that the measures that this summit produced are not nearly sufficient to properly address the climate crisis. This issue was highlighted by the protesters throughout COP26. It is not enough that we listen anymore, it is time to join the crowds and demand change. Actions, not words, will show the true results of COP26. 

*ANNA R. is 21, a student at Edinburg University.

Nest week: "Gettin' Old Ain't Easy"

Note: I have followed the climate change discussion and politics for a long time, trying to defend the science and debunk the denialist claims whenever I come across them. I have also followed the bewildering double standard of a lot of pretty talk but virtually no action by the powers to be. You know, the same stuff Greta Thunberg talks about.

But unlike her, I'm guilty of doing essentially nothing, actually. At least apart from arguing on the internet, and some life choices that reduce my carbon footprint. I have no children, no car, and I work from home. I do not travel much by air. I have even reduced the use of red meat considerably. The thing is, I didn't really do these choices because of the climate (at least not mainly), so I can't really take much climate-change-activist-credit for them either. So my main real contribution is just the debates, I guess. Which is not a lot.

This isn't really surprising, as the things an individual citizen can do are very limited. The corporations will only change if forced, or if it is profitable. Not because they are inherently evil, but because that's what is needed for success.

We thus cannot rely on the people or the businesses, the big change really must come from the governments, from international agreements.

I'm used to getting disappointed with the results of climate negotiations. And the same goes for COP26. It's always too little, too late. But there's perhaps a slither of hope. Big ships turn slowly, but i feel the heading is really changing. Finally. Perhaps thanks to activists like Greta and Extinction Rebellion, the issue is finally starting to be taken with the gravitas it deserves. Or maybe it's just that the always too small steps forward seen in the political negotiations and corporate behavior do indeed accumulate to a bigger whole over time and make a difference.

In any case, I'm more optimistic than I have been in a long while. There seems to be actual progress being made.


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