Countdown to COP
By Will McMyn
On 22 September, Boris Johnson gave a speech to the UN General Assembly in New York, describing the forthcoming COP26 summit in Glasgow as “the turning point for humanity”. With his usual colourful rhetorical flourishes, the PM invoked both Sophocles and Kermit the Frog, calling on “humanity to grow up” and show that collectively “we have the maturity and wisdom to act” on climate change.
It’s a busy time in Milan: the Youth4Climate event (28-30 September) in the city has brought together almost 400 young people aged 15-29 from 186 countries to address the main priorities for climate action. Speaking at the event, Greta Thunberg gave an excoriating assessment of the climate-related achievements of global leaders:
“Build back better. Blah, blah, blah. Green economy. Blah blah blah. Net zero by 2050. Blah, blah, blah. This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words that sound great but so far have not led to action. Our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises.”
Part of the Youth4Climate event involves the young delegates discussing climate change issues with climate and energy ministers from a selected group of countries who have gathered in Milan for the official “Pre-Cop” meeting, which aims to lay helpful foundations ahead of the main negotiations in Glasgow in November.
The BBC has announced its extensive plans for coverage of COP26. Previous COPs have largely failed to penetrate the general public’s consciousness, so the BBC’s ambitious programme may mark a step change in public engagement with global efforts on climate action.