As Nations Are Sinking, Women and Youth Uprise at COP26

Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

Danielle Haller/ Staff Writer

COP26, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference is over, and in a nutshell, nothing’s changed

All we have to show for it is that leaders of nations recognize the urgency to stop temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees celsius through climate change mitigation, but the COP leaders offer no hopeful plan to follow. 

COP26 is the latest of the Conference of Parties at the UN Climate Change Conference events. 

The COP is a group of states that are parties to the convention and each year they meet to discuss their terms at the UN Climate Change Conference events. 

For the twenty-sixth year in a row, it’s still a bunch of “blah blah blah” as Greta Thunberg refers to it in her reality-striking speech at this year’s UN climate summit in Glasgow. 

Greta is a youth climate activist who has been known for starting a climate change revolution amongst young people. 

If leaders were serious about finding strategic and proactive climate solutions, they would listen to the concerns presented by female leaders rather than excluding them from the climate table.  

Older male leaders who are unwilling to share their positions of power are reluctant to change, but this won’t last long.

So youth activists across the globe have petitioned the UN for change, declaring a “systemwide climate emergency”, and are demanding that countries and leaders take action now. 

COP26, and its predecessors, historically revolved around male leaders and their unchanged minds. 

They are aware that they hold the future of our planet in their hands and choose to keep talking about what to do instead of implementing real change.

Island nations are sinking due to sea-level rise. To make a point about how dire sea-level rise is, the foreign minister of Tuvalu, Simon Kofe, presented their nation’s speech knee-deep in the ocean. 

“Lands are becoming submerged and disappearing, marine resources and food supply chain are affected in Tuvalu,” said Simon Kofe, finance minister of Seve Paeniu, an island located about midway between Hawaii and Australia. 

The island of Tuvalu is less than 2 meters above sea level and the nation is already extremely vulnerable. 

The cost of climate change adaptation at Tuvalu is set at $50 billion per year requiring a significant shift in thinking before adaptation can be possible.

This leaves nations like Tuvalu in a rut, while COP26 still provided no resources on…

  • How to preserve the oceanic reefs which are gravely in danger of extinction and affect at least 25% of all marine life, according to United Nations News.
  • How to solve the humanitarian crisis in which 80% of the world is facing starvation, according to Poverty Facts and Stats on Global Issues.
  • How to prevent sea-level rise from consuming islands and towns even in the Americas, according to the NOAA.

With the  Paris Climate Agreement, our original goal was to not surpass an increase in temperature of 1.5 degrees C. 

We are currently 1.2 degrees hotter and we are already witnessing the devastation of climate change. 

Now, with increased GHG emissions, the earth is set to increase to 2.5 – 2.7 degrees C globally by the end of the century, according to the UN COP26 Report. 

Based on current projections, major cities like New Orleans, Savannah, Venice, Amsterdam, Bangkok, and more are in danger of being underwater by 2030. 

You can view the Surging Seas Risk Zone interactive climate map to see how much sea-level rise it would take for your city to be submerged. 

For a century, global leaders assumed that future generations will fix the mistakes of their predecessors. 

Well, the time is now. And we are the leaders of a sustainable future. 

Noting where the world is headed based on climate projections, young climate leaders and visionaries need to place themselves in a position where they can make changes to save our future. 

Are you an FIU Student who is interested in making an impact on climate change?

Here are a few ways FIU students can get involved and make an impact on climate change…

  • Sustainability and the Environment Bachelor’s Degree Program where students can major in Environmental Sustainability.
  • Volunteer with the various FIU student clubs: Sustainable Souls, GLADES, Soustainability,  MANRRS, Surfrider, P20, FLPIRG, and more!

Students can also check out the UN Millennium Fellowship at FIU to work toward sustainable development goals.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community

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