A day full of promises

Henry Woodham, City of Norwich School leaver

Monday 1st November 2021

COP26 has commenced! On this first day, the World leaders’ Summit Phase was first up, where many national leaders gave introductory speeches addressing their stances on the climate change emergency. Of note is for example US president Biden, who apologised for Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris UN climate agreement and assured that “the United States is not only back at the table” but hopefully leading by the power of their example. China’s president, Xi Jinping, urged that developed countries provide support to help developing countries do better, with which several leaders, such as in the UK and US, agreed. The UK government announced that it is going to commit to “£3 billion over the next five years” to support developing countries to produce sustainable, green technologies. Likewise, Oxfam America’s associate director for Climate Change, Thomas Damassa, urged that “the US and other rich countries need to ramp up investments toward the $100 billion promised every year to help poorer nations adapt to climate change and reduce emissions”. One of the first to pledge was India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, who pledged to reach net-zero by 2070. This would mean that “India’s annual emissions of greenhouse gases could peak by 2030” - the same year that India has also pledged to get half of its energy from renewable resources, and cut carbon emissions by one billion tonnes, amongst several other pledges. These early acts of leadership and commitment shine hope on the productiveness of COP26, but the question remains whether they will be put into practice.

Commitment and leadership are essential qualities that governments need to show to ensure that we can tackle climate change with urgency, and can act now to not exceed the 1.5-degree goal from the Paris Agreement. Without this urgency, willingness to adapt, and with fear of having to sacrifice money and time, my future will be directly impacted in many ways. Sea levels would rise by 56 cm due to the exponential increase in the melting of ice. Locally, this would mainly affect Norfolk’s coastline by increasing erosion and affecting coastal and river ecosystems. With one of my hobbies being surfing, this would affect many of Norfolk’s surf breaks and thus heavily affecting our local surf community. However, the UK will not feel the full devastating effect that would impact developing countries the most. With a love for travelling, many of these countries will be permanently damaged by the time I am 50, countries such as Bangladesh will have lost 11% of their land and other countries will experience serious droughts resulting in a mass migration of humans and animals. Evidently, this links to the topics discussed in COP26 today, it shows the desperate need for not only individual and national change but collective action, where we all help and work together to save our climate. Personally, I think the biggest global change that needs to occur is aiming to stop using fossil fuels completely. I think the best way to do this is through discussion over larger renewable initiatives at COP26, targeting not only individuals, but more importantly, multinational corporations. One of the biggest factors stunting quicker renewable energy development for companies is that other investments are being made that boast a larger financial return, when saving the environment should be our global number one priority!

References and sources

1. Alan Evans, Tom Levitt. UN climate talks in Glasgow Cop26. The Guardian. 2021.

2. Michael Marshall, Adam Vaughan. COP26 news: World leaders give dire warnings on the summit's first day. Newscientist. [Online] [Cited: November 2, 2021.] https://www.newscientist.com/article/2295691-cop26-news-world-leaders-give-dire-warnings-on-the-summits-first-day/

Read the other reports from our budding journalists to hear the important views from young people on all things COP26.


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