COP26 and the Student Voice

With all eyes on Glasgow these past two weeks, citizens around the world are sitting and waiting for the political leaders and financial giants to come together and form a plan to tackle climate change.

With all eyes on Glasgow these past two weeks, citizens around the world are sitting and waiting for the political leaders and financial giants to come together and form a plan to tackle climate change.  

The conference has seen inspiring speeches from the likes of David Attenborough (1), who urged world leaders to recapture billions of tonnes of carbon from the air and create a new industrial revolution powered by sustainable innovations, and Mia Mottley – the Prime Minister of Barbados, (2) who reminded world leaders that allowing over 2°C of global warming would be a death sentence to those most vulnerable to the changing climate. Idris Elba spoke about the devastating impact climate change would have on food production (3), and Barack Obama stated that the progress being made is still falling short to address the climate crisis (4).  

And while the leaders debate and negotiate on pressing issues such as halting deforestation and shifting away from fossil fuels to cleaner energy, we, the citizens, must not become complacent, or lured into a false sense of security that the desired outcome for the climate crisis is being achieved. As plainly seen by Australia refusing to join the pledge to phase out coal power (Morton,2021) and Indonesia, home to the world's third largest rainforest, already U-turning on its commitment to end deforestation due to the negative impact it’ll have on the country’s development (Llewellyn, 2021).  

So, in this crucial time of action, citizens must continue to be at the forefront of social change, pushing and pressuring governments to create the political changes needed to meet the challenges. Barack Obama said, ‘The most important energy from this movement is coming from young people’ and he’s correct, in our lifetimes we have seen, time and time again, blatant inaction to deal with climate change and we are now the generation who will inherit this problem.  

Students are in a perfect position to strengthen and deepen the climate movement through our political voting habits, consumerist buying behaviours and daily lived experience. Every day students have the power to contribute positively to the climate movement, through small actions such as choosing to purchase from ethical and sustainable companies and avoiding those who have negative effects on the environment. Educating the people around us; family members, friends, and colleagues, who are indifferent or disagree with the climate movement. And importantly by choosing to lead lifestyles that contribute the lowest amount of CO2, choosing alternative modes of transport such as cycling (or Voi-ing), reducing the amount of meat we are eating each week, turning off electrics and lights when not in use, doing full loads of laundry and taking shorter showers. We can choose to be more mindful about waste, simple actions such as buying products not in plastic packaging and reducing the amount of food we waste will contribute to reducing our carbon footprints.  

By aligning our behaviours to our intent on protecting the planet, by putting climate activism into our daily lived experiences, we are making a statement to the political leaders that we need change.  

  1. David Attenborough  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjq4VWdZhq8 
  2. Mia Mottley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PN6THYZ4ngM 
  3. Idris Elba https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSEDGmP5y30 
  4. Barack Obama https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69EMd4csZRY 

Llewllyn, A. (2021) Hot Air: Scepticism over Indonesia’s COP26 deforestation pledges Available from: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/11/9/hot-air-scepticism-over-indonesias-cop26-deforestation-pledges [Accessed 11 Nov 2021] 

Morton, A. (2021) Australian government refuses to join 40 nations phasing out coal, saying it wont ‘wipe out industries’ Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/05/australia-refuses-to-join-40-nations-phasing-out-coal-as-angus-taylor-says-coalition-wont-wipe-out-industries [Accessed 11 Nov 2021]