NGO and Youth Involvement at COP26
From October 31 to November 12, global leaders converged in Glasgow for the COP26 summit. This meeting was the direct successor to COP25, which resulted in the famed Paris Agreement, or the Paris Climate Accords. However, after six years of implementation, the situation with our global climate remains dire. The global average temperature continues to increase at an alarming rate. The IPCC has predicted that there will be severe consequences if the temperature increases more than 1.5°C, but the commitments made at COP26 only bring the world 9 percent closer to that goal—still well short of what is needed. Considering that many of the pledges made during COP25 remain unfulfilled, even this meager progress remains doubtful.
However, despite these grave challenges facing our world, there was good news coming out of the COP26 meeting. While hundreds of presidents and prime ministers and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attended, there was also a strong turnout among NGOs and young leaders. Collaborative groups among NGOs such as the COP26 Coalition gave speeches, held demonstrations, and created evocative displays to bring more public attention to the meetings in Glasgow.
Young leaders also traveled to Glasgow to represent the voices with the most at stake in the long-term future of our planet. Young leaders like Greta Thunberg from Sweden, Brianna Fruean from Samoa, and even former NHSMUN-alum Renata Koch Alvarenga from Brazil made passionate speeches for governments to take more action against and responsibility for climate change. These critical voices give us hope as young people become increasingly vocal participants in climate change discussions.
It seems as the people of the world are more united than ever about the need for swift, decisive action to combat climate change, even if governments remain less committed. Although the government action in Glasgow may have been disappointing, the ever-stronger voices from NGO and Youth leaders inspire hope that overcoming climate change may not be as distant as it seems.