COP26: 26 years and 26 failed attempts

6 mins read

COP26, the two week climate orientated event which brought world leaders onto a cold Glasgow stage on October 31.

Maybe the events spooky start on Halloween was the first sign that this wasn’t going to be the motivator of real change that the world needs. Or maybe I’m just superstitious.

It would be unfair to say that the intentions of COP26 missed the mark. The event wasn’t completely meaningless.

However, there is a general consensus- especially amongst young people, that COP26 is just another opportunity for a lot to be said but for nothing to be done.

Credit: Carbon Brief
Credit: Carbon Brief

The first signs of ignorance were fast in revealing themselves.

At an event focused on climate change and what we can do to reduce our carbon footprint, leaders arrived from across the globe in private jets and fancy cars accompanied by streams of other cars as security.

Credit: Ladbible
Credit: Ladbible

One notable example of this was U.S President, Joe Biden driving down the motorway in one car, while around twenty cars followed him.

According to the Huffington Post, more than 400 private jets were used to get to the event.

Was this really necessary? Did it really follow the example that the event was supposed to set?

The G20 summit had just taken place in Rome, have our leaders never heard of carpool?

Maybe some would say, particularly given the COVID-19 circumstances, that the event could’ve been done online. It would’ve saved the carbon emissions which came from all that travelling.

I believe it is difficult to say whether having it online would’ve been as efficient, given all the experience we as a society now have with undertaking work online. However, would it have really mattered in the grand scheme of things given that the event hasn’t accomplished what it needed to now, nor has it done in the past 26 years.

Not only were the arrivals questionable, but so was the decision not to formally invite climate youth activists to speak.

Our world leaders are always quick to commend the actions of young people as they fight for climate justice, but are also just as quick to ignore those voices when it comes to actually making the decisions.

Notable activists such as Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate were forced to watch the discussions being had from afar, however took matters into their own hands by organising rallies and marches.

If the march held in the streets of Glasgow said anything, it screamed that young people are fed up.

It always feels as though there is a strong sense of tokenism within large conferences like these.

Speaking to youth activists and underrepresented groups, such as the indigenous individuals invited to COP26, seems like another opportunity for world leaders to try desperately prove that they are doing the right thing, when in reality it is a stunt. Merely just a photo op.

Our leaders love taking part in the show, but get lazy in the intermission.

They speak about those most affected by climate change, but don’t ask them their opinions.

So, what can we take from COP26 now that the summit has come to an end?

Credit: The Herald
Credit: The Herald

Personally, all I can take from the event is a bittersweet taste that is all too recognisable.

COP26, along with all the other climate change events which take place held so much promise and anticipation, but fell short of what we really need.

Do our world leaders actually care about this issue? Or are they just forced to attend a discussion about something that many of them won’t live to see the real effects of?

I think it’s clear from events like these that the youth are the future.

This is a statement that’s all too familiar, our leaders love to comment on youth being the future as a distraction tactic from their own failures. Failures which have become clear at this event, which signals a tone deaf nonchalance that is both saddening and infuriating.

A note to world leaders: don’t show up to a climate change event with a fleet of cars and private jets, don’t forget to include the voices of those who are most important in this fight, and don’t pretend to care about something when you don’t.

When will the targets actually be met? When will they actually take our voices seriously?

The world is on track to heat up by more than two point four degrees. These extreme weather events are continuing every day. Those in developing countries continue to be the ones who suffer the most at the hands of a deteriorating climate.

I don’t understand what part of this isn’t scaring our world leaders into immediate action.

It’s no longer enough to set targets, something has to be done now.

Here’s hoping COP27 is the one.

She says sarcastically.


Featured Image Credit: Carbon Literacy

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English Studies student at the University of Stirling.

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