A great irony of the climate crisis is that we turn to youth activists and young people to sort fact from fiction, rather than our world leaders. While it's true that not a single person will be left untouched by the outcomes of climate change, it would be a lie to say we'll all feel these consequences equally. As we've come to learn, young people (among others) have more skin in the game. It's for this reason that when Greta Thunberg speaks, we are compelled to listen. So in the wake of the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow, which has been ominously dubbed a global "last chance saloon", we're all ears for what the youth activist has to say.
What is that exactly? Blah, blah, blah. Once again, Thunberg reminds us that not enough is being done. The international agreement struck between the 197 countries in attendance at the COP26 summit still fails to limit warming to 1.5C reports The Independent. While the Glasgow conference is the first time the problem of coal has been taken seriously, a last minute intervention made by China and India weakened the language around coal to "phase down" instead of the more meaningful "phase out".
The #COP26 is over. Here’s a brief summary: Blah, blah, blah.
But the real work continues outside these halls. And we will never give up, ever. https://t.co/EOne9OogiR
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) November 13, 2021
As you can imagine, Greta's response was swift and searing. Over Twitter she wrote, "The COP26 is over. Here's a brief summary: Blah, blah, blah."
Her frustrations were mirrored by smaller island nations who contribute significantly less emissions than the US, UK and Australia, but will feel the impacts of climate change more severely. "It will be too late for the Maldives," representative Shauna Aminath told The Independent.
"What is balanced and pragmatic to other parties will not help the Maldives adapt in time... For us this is a matter of survival," she continued. "The difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees is a death sentence for us.”
Major world polluters are required to return to the negotiating table next year in Egypt with more meaningful emissions-reduction targets. Although, for many of us, this simply feels like kicking the proverbial can down the road.
Following the conference, UN secretary-general António Guterres was grave. “Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread. We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe. It is time to go into emergency mode – or our chance of reaching net zero will itself be zero," he said.
Greta is one of 14 youth climate activists calling on Guterres to declare the climate crisis a global level 3 emergency – the same status held by the coronavirus pandemic. So far, it is believed that the UN has seen a draft of the petition, but it is unclear whether or not the UN will implement their calls.
What now? As Greta has said, "the real work continues outside of these halls. And we will never give up".