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    COP26 Climate Change Summit: will world leaders step up to the occasion?

    Banners advertising the upcoming COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, U.K., on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Glasgow will welcome world leaders and thousands of attendees for the crucial United Nations summit on climate change in November. Photographer: Ian Forsyth/Bloomberg

    Last weekend the United Nations Climate Change Conference began in Glasgow, Scotland. This is the first time the Conference of the Parties [COP] is being held since COP25 in 2019 took place in Madrid, Spain. Due to COVID-19, COP26 was postponed from November 2020 to Oct. 31, 2021. More than 190 world leaders and a myriad of government representatives, negotiators, businesses and citizens have had two weeks from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 to discuss climate change action.  

    This assembly has been reported as one of the most fervid attempts at slowing down the intensifying of global warming. COP26 is under the public eye and world leaders are under ample pressure to ensure progress in climate action. The meeting escalated very quickly on day five of the summit when several thousands of people marched into Glasgow protesting the cataclysmic increasing temperatures. Additionally, young protesters have made their voices heard loud and clear as they expressed the action they expect to see regarding temperature control. 

    The U.S. seems to be stepping up to the challenge, and the private sectors, which many have been criticizing, have pitched in a great deal. The U.S. is committed to cutting carbon emissions to keep the goal temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius in reach. China joins the U.S. in this goal as stated in the U.S. and China Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020’s. Philanthropic foundations and developmental banks reported they will assist funds for emerging economies to transition from fossil fuel to renewable sources with a $10.5 billion grant.  

    A new organization named the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet [GEAPP] was launched at the beginning of the summit. This alliance aims to generate more investments into green energy transitions and has already cultivated $9 billion from developmental banks.  

    The Bezos Earth Fund has also contributed $2 billion towards restoring nature and transforming food systems. Including Bezos’ $1 billion pledge towards conservation efforts in September, the Bezos Earth Fund has granted a total of $3 billion towards climate action efforts.  

    Although there has been an abundance of pledges and plans to slow down the intensification of climate change, many are still skeptical that not enough has, or will be done to fix it. Trust in many world leaders has been lost due to their failure to follow through on previous plans. 

    Anthropology Professor at SUNY Brockport, Neal B. Keating Ph.D., believes world leaders are not doing their part because they let their decisions be influenced by economic factors.  

    “World leaders are not leading. They are instead following the commands of the market economy. In so doing they all but guarantee a bleak future for humanity and the more-than-human beings we share the world with,” Keating said.  

    Additionally, Keating believes there is a need for foundational and structural changes within all entities of society to educate on the danger of climate change. 

    “Real leadership on climate change and global warming requires leveraging full structural transformation of the political, economic, and racialized cultural systems that are driving climate change. This includes transforming educational institutions like SUNY Brockport to better prepare students to design and engage in such transformation.” Keating said.  

    Even if someone is not a member of an organization or club supporting climate action, they can still be mindful of how their actions affect the earth. Small changes such as reducing your energy use, respecting green spaces and cutting waste can make an impact.  

    Climate change is a significant issue that is only going to intensify with time. With this in mind, the world will be watching the summit to see what pledges are made, if the youths’ voices are heard and if action is being taken. The world is now waiting to see if its leaders will step up to the occasion. 

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