COP26: The Onus Shifts to Leaders Involved in COP26 to Act

By Claire Dickson

A coming together of world leaders to establish the most pressingly necessary emissions targets to date. The progress of discussion or lack thereof will enact its profoundest effect over a more youth-centred base, forming the reason protests over the ineffectiveness of the event largely consisted in students, unlikely to forfeit their inheritance of Earth as we know it without contestation. But appraisal must also be directed towards Saturday’s protests in its attraction of a population hailing from a range of interest groups, age brackets and walks of life as the impact of the event gave rise to a 100000 strong march through the streets of Glasgow. Neither did the location of the protests act as a hinderance in that fears of a global governance defined by inaction on climate were voiced by citizens from Brazil and Ecuador, activists who remain some of the hardest hit by the effects of climate change, alongside Glaswegians themselves of course!

The collective solidarity generated by this array of nationalities added emphasis to their argument in demanding the commitments made in the Paris Agreement are acted upon. These being to the tune of Earth remaining below 1.5 degrees Celsius – as things stand, a target unlikely to be reached. From the standpoint of those in authority, no concerns were raised over the actions of protestors with police commenting that ‘non-contentious relations’ were commonplace throughout. Surely the credibility of their demand is then considered as the onus shifts to leaders involved in COP26 to act, them now having no ground to stand on with regard to resulting disruption. But what aids a political or social cause most has yet to be touched on. It was in fact the influential speeches given by figures known to both those active and disinterested in the area which set apart the Glasgow protests from those that went before them. In the emotive voicing of her thoughts Great Thunberg, the teenage activist with a masterful knack of scrutiny informed the protest that COP26 had been a failure owing to the fact annual emissions cuts like the world has never seen before are needed whilst the people in power continue to live in their bubble wherein eternal growth on a finite planet will seemingly appear out of nowhere.

Alok Sharma was appointed President of COP26 in February 2020

The outcome of protest in this case may provoke progress from those in power to act on their promises before it dawns too late as the sense of urgency grows that this is humanity’s last chance to step up to the mark. In so far as progress can be spoken of, already significant paths to change have been embarked upon in the wake of protest such as the prime minister of India stating his country would reach net zero emissions by 2070 or Boris Johnson agreeing to the providence of climate aid for less economically well-off states – the focus must now be on turning COP26 from a mere talking shop into proactivity in that deeds take precedence over words.

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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