COP26 – What do we make of it so far?

By Amy-Beth McCarthy

Amy-Beth from UK has been a passionate advocate for addressing climate change within her local community and has recently joined her local action group for the rural development partnership.

A huge spinning globe suspended from a sphere-like building, positioned in the centre of the room.

My initial feeling walking into the Action Zone was excitement, or was it nerves? I guess a bit of both. I was nervous for the outcome of the announcements soon to be made by my country and the countries that followed; excited that this may finally be the day that our world leaders step up to the mark and take action…

As delegates and reporters from all over the world gathered in the Blue Zone to listen to the announcements made by their leaders, an unnerving feeling seemed to flood the room. This is the moment we have all been waiting for… will our leaders achieve what they have been promising?

The days that followed allowed for delegates and journalists to share their stories at panel discussions and side events, which are where the voices of the people are being listened to and amplified. And there are plenty of conversations circling the Blue Zone, with each table discussing how we could strive to keep temperatures to 1.5C, but also mixed emotions on the summit as a whole.

Tudor, Coordinator of Environmental Programmes at YMCA Romania and part of COI Climate change, said: “So far I have found COP26 to be beneficial and educational. Beneficial in seeing new innovative technologies that can help cities drastically reduce their carbon footprint, and educational in terms of the panels and seminars. However, I would have preferred topics to be focused on concrete actions that participants could take back to their organisations and their parties.”

Rodrigo Puntriano, coordinator of a youth-led solution project in Peru added: “As a young person, I expect much more commitment from decision-makers than I’ve seen so far at COP26. But I am feeling optimistic because this event is an opportunity for us as young people to take climate action into our hands and showcase what we are accomplishing through youth-led solutions.”

Shakil, Amy-Beth and Tudor

A personal highlight for me so far has been attending Vital Signs of the Planet. The dramatic footage from NASA and National Geographic, combined with the phenomenal orchestra from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland really captured the urgency of the climate crisis. It was a great honour to be at this event and I have been inspired by my fellow delegate, Cedric Dzelu, who spoke beautifully at the event, to take action via my local YMCA in Swansea, South Wales.

I know that I will take a lot out of this experience, and I cannot thank World YMCA, YMCA England & Wales and YMCA Swansea enough for granting me the opportunity to be here. Now, knowing what I have learned, I aspire to educate the young people I work with at home on how making the smallest of changes within our daily lives can make a huge global impact. By adapting our routines, habits and diets, we can all contribute to the fight against climate change.