Where is the work of COP26 being done?

I would like to state that the work is being done everywhere and in order to succeed it needs to be done by everyone. In the Blue Zone in Glasgow there are world leaders, party delegates, observers (like the Climate Generation delegation), press, support staff and many others at the conference. Today, I had the opportunity to attend a side event, NDC Update and Nitrogen-Climate opportunities from South Asia to the World. In this SACEP panel I learned some of how the work is done in Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Maldives, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

Each country reported on what they have accomplished on their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) through 2020, and how they are developing their new NDCs. The task set forth for all parties (nations) was to be ambitious with their new NDCs so that carbon emissions are cut in half by 2030, and a carbon neutral status is attained by 2050. All country representatives analyzed transportation, energy, industry, agriculture, and forestation/land use. They engaged stakeholders across all facets in each of these areas, to create the new NDCs. Everyone encountered difficulties in this process when COVID-19 restricted the ability to meet in person. Most countries stressed the need for finance resources and technology in order for them to be able to implement these ambitious NDCs. The Bangladesh representative stressed the importance of being able to implement these plans with the requirement for following up at regular intervals to track the progress. Pakistan’s representative spoke of the importance of including nature-based solutions and creating green jobs. This was my first time at a conference of this type, since I am used to attending science conferences where data is provided in graphical displays. I was happy to see the representative from the Maldives provide slides to illustrate his points.

We are still learning where we can go during COP26 with COVID restrictions in place. This bulletin was texted to participants and displayed throughout the venue telling people to participate remotely.

It is frustrating because several side events that I wanted to attend today were only available to participants remotely. One area where we can see some of the work being done is in the Pavilions. John Kerry presented the work the U.S. is doing to reduce deforestation at the U.S Pavilion today. I summed it up in a #COPhaiku.

Understand systems

Forests sequester carbon

Finance protection

Everyone can follow the live feed from the U.S. Center at UNFCCC to learn more from the many presenters there all week.

Some of the side events are available for us to attend because they are in a large auditorium with limited seating. In the Youth voices for climate justice: climactivists from the world rewriting COP26’s agenda, activists from Ghana, UK, Nigeria, and Peru provided their ideas and engaged in conversation with audience members. The young adults asked for the knowledge they need to be able to transition from a people focused world to a planet focused world that also allows them to profit with green jobs in a sustainable future. They also asked the people in charge of the negotiating tables to make space for the youth, and that the youth must take that space to guide the negotiations.

Overall, the message conveyed throughout the day is that of urgency. Funding is needed to effectively implement the ambitious plans the world and its inhabitants need. One participant provided his funding ideas on his clothing today.

Continue to follow Climate Generation’s delegation over the next few weeks so that you can learn more about how we can all contribute to the work of COP26.

Betsy Wilkening

Betsy Wilkening is the Education Outreach Coordinator at Arizona Project WET – University of Arizona, President of Polar Educators International, and a member of Climate Generation’s Window into COP26 Delegation this November. Betsy’s hispanic roots run deep in the Sonoran Desert, and as members of her community are disproportionately affected by extreme heat, persistent drought and extreme storm events, she is passionate about empowering all to take action to build a more resilient community. Learn more about Betsy and subscribe to follow her experience at COP26.

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