For the past year, climate change has been an inescapable reality, with worsening drought conditions in California, extreme hurricanes like Ida, flooding in Germany, raging and uncontrollable fires on the West Coast, and higher temperatures around the world. Our time to successfully combat climate change is running out. 

Starting on October 31st, leaders from around the world will convene in Glasgow, Scotland for the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference, or COP26, to make decisions that will dictate humanity’s ability to combat climate change. These decisions will have a huge impact on the future of our generation and every one thereafter. Leaders attending the conference, such as Governor Gavin Newsom, are tasked with  making effective decisions for those that they represent.

COP26 in Glasgow is a key follow-up to the Paris Climate Agreement created in 2015.  The Paris Climate Agreement was monumental, as it was the first time that almost every country endorsed the same climate policies. However, countries have not followed through sufficiently on the promises they made about reducing CO2 emissions, and the climate crisis has continued to worsen.  

With leaders together again, there is a fresh opportunity for commitment. COP26 will review progress and provide a forum for countries to reset plans. A key goal of COP 26 is to achieve global net-zero emissions by 2050. This means that major reductions in emissions must be made, and any remaining emissions must be counteracted by carbon sequestration methods. COP26 will also aim to secure funding for countries particularly vulnerable to climate change and to agree on tangible ways to protect and restore natural habitats. These are not easily achievable goals, as they will require intense discussions and compromises between countries who each have unique circumstances and interests to protect.  

    Historically, conferences like COP26 have often failed to deliver the results promised. There is no longer time to accept empty environmental rhetoric from politicians. Broad and loud voices from the public demanding actual change remain crucial in times like these. One way you can get involved is by contacting Governor Gavin Newsom through his website: https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail/. Tell him how you have been personally affected by climate change and what you hope he achieves for California at COP26. Additionally, contact me at mobilizing@350bayarea.org to get involved in climate activism with 350 Bay Area’s Mobilizing Team. We are currently planning an event on November 6th to mobilize local youth and show that we demand our leaders create bold climate policy at COP 26.

~ Ava Stern, Youth Climate Activist with 350 Bay Area’s Mobilizing Team