• Gabrielle Hendricks

U.N. Climate Change Conference: COP26 or FLOP26?

The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) was another unsuccessful attempt of getting the world to coordinate on helping solve the dire climate crisis, spelling doom for the young generation as our elders in power choose to be selfish and more concerned with economics than our futures.


COP26 was held at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow, Scotland from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12. This year’s COP was co-organized by the U.K. and Italy. The president of COP26 was Alok Sharma, the British Minister of State who has dedicated part of his career to helping solve the climate crisis.


The goals of COP26 are to have countries agree to follow through with the plans listed in the Paris Agreement. Those plans include reducing the global temperature to 1.5℃, cutting methane emissions by 30% by 2030, reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and ending deforestation by 2030.


Developing countries want to achieve these goals as climate change is affecting their countries the most, despite their countries emitting the least amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The African continent is suffering the most from climate change when they only emit three percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. They are calling upon developed nations to pledge $100 billion per year to reduce climate change. Following through with article 6 of the Paris Agreement is also a goal of COP26.


Article 6 details the idea of Carbon Markets, where nations are given a few permits to emitcertain CO2 levels into the atmosphere and if a nation does not use all their permits, they can sell unused permits to other nations. Article 6 has not been agreed upon by most nations, but the other goals have been signed upon by most nations.


Most of the goals listed in the Paris Agreement being agreed upon by most nations is a step forward to the future of clean energy and saving our planet from destruction. However, article 6 not being agreed upon is a serious disappointment and shows nations are not fully committed to solving the climate crisis because they are more concerned with wealth than global health. Article 6 would better ensure that countries are not emitting too much CO2 because there will be a legal limit, taking away the sovereignty to pollute the planet from nations.


The rest of the clauses in the Paris Agreement are simply promises, while article 6 is a solid rule. The young generation is tired of false promises, we want the implementation of law and to see credible changes. COP26 has been around for three decades and we have been hearing the same promises and never see them fulfilled. The crisis has only gotten worse. Common citizens across nations need to pressure their leaders to sign onto article 6, so that way me may see actual change for the better occur and protect our futures.


Controversies over some political figures not attending COP26 is being analyzed by the world. The most popular one is Queen Elizabeth II of England not attending because of her doctors’ instructions to rest at home. The Queen not attending is understandable, she is an older woman who is deserving of a break. Her absence is the only excusable one for COP26 considering her age and the fact she holds no real power over England.


Inexcusable absences are those of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and King Salman of Saudi Arabia. Their absences are due to their horrible track records of helping protect the earth as they contribute heavily to its destruction. Xi’s absence is the most notable and complex as he is blamed by most of the world for COVID-19 and people are questioning if he is afraid to face the world again. Xi has not left China in over 650 days and has not signed on to the agreement to cut down on coal usage. The irresponsibility of China to help solve the climate crisis despite them being a world power deserves criticism and the world needs to pressure China to change its policies.


U.S. President Joe Biden gave a promising speech on his initiative to solve the climate crisis and implement a plan to make sure the U.S. is a leader in the clean energy movement. He emphasized his Build Back Better Initiative which is 1.75 trillion-dollar plan to create clean energy jobs and manufacturing. The plan would create more jobs, spread electric transportation (electric cars, buses and more charging ports) and spread solar energy usage. Despite this plan being a large step towards a cleaner future and being a world saving initiative, it is not probable.


Joe Biden does not have the support of everyone in congress. This plan is expensive and most politicians are more concerned about saving money and using dirty energy is cheaper. Capitalism makes the picture of a clean world nearly impossible and the public needs to come to this realization.


Overall, COP26 is seemingly full of politicians not truly concerned with the future of our planet and absent of those who are causing massive destruction. The most important figures in the world need to hold discussions, but it is not happening. Countries of the global south are emphasizing the discussions, but money is what truly talks and it is something they lack.