Fridays For Future protest, image by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

By Aida El-Hajjar, age 12

The Conference of the Parties, or COP, is an annual gathering of world leaders to discuss one issue that has occupied billions of minds: climate change. This year’s COP26 was held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2021. Currently 197 countries participate in the COP. The conference, which was postponed last year because of the pandemic, was considered “a big check-up” to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Greta Thunberg, original illustration by Aida El-Hajjar, age 12

After two weeks of disagreement, world leaders signed off on a new climate accord which emphasizes securing global net-zero emissions by 2050, keeping 1.5 degrees Celsius warming within reach, protecting natural habitats, and working together to fight against climate change. Experts say emissions need to fall 45% by 2030 if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). 

When COP26 ended, many climate activists were not content with the solutions leaders proposed. World-famous climate justice activist Greta Thunberg said to protesters on the streets of Glasgow, “It is not a secret that COP26 is a failure.” She described the U.N. climate summit as a “two-week-long celebration of business as usual,” to “create loopholes to benefit themselves.” Thunberg was referring to the method of holding large conferences and perpetually making agreements that are not adhered to.

Activists say that if world leaders don’t act, places like Tuvalu, a series of small islands in Oceania, will soon be fully submerged. Additionally, farmers worldwide will continue to struggle as drought destroys their crops. Activists are worried that climate change is impacting all of our lives and will continue to worsen if leaders won’t act.

“Start by planting a tree and promoting reusable bags in your area. Then, think bigger. Keep that little spark of hope burning within, and spread it.”

Audrey Symon, a 15-year-old climate activist

Combating climate change is going to take a global effort. As Audrey Symon, a 15-year-old climate activist for the Sunrise Movement, said in an interview with IndyKids, “Start by planting a tree and promoting reusable bags in your area. Then, think bigger. Keep that little spark of hope burning within, and spread it.” Symon reminds us to do our part so that one day we can all live in a world not polluted by greenhouse gases and toxic emissions.