Essay | The climate is changing, and so must we

Silhouette of a woman waving a scarf in the sky against the backdrop of a cloudy sky at sunset.

(Image by Anant Sharma/Pixabay)

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In a few days, world leaders will come together to decide the fate of our planet amidst an unprecedented climate crisis. As a young person, I’m incredibly worried about how climate change will affect livelihoods around the world in the coming decades. For younger generations, climate change is a catastrophe we will have to deal with for the rest of our lives, and thus COP26 is crucial in determining how seriously countries will take this issue. As many have already put it, COP26 is the world’s “last best chance” to make drastic cuts to global greenhouse emissions.

What makes climate change so complex is that every country, every industry, and every individual is a stakeholder. Governments, businesses, and nonprofits across the spectrum have differing priorities on how to tackle the climate crisis. Climate change disproportionately affects Global South countries who have contributed the least to the problem, also making climate change an equity issue. Throw a catastrophic pandemic into the mix, and climate change becomes an even more complex issue that only worsens human health and survival. 

The clock is ticking, and every day vulnerable communities around the world face climate consequences that threaten their livelihoods––from droughts to hurricanes to rising sea levels. These consequences will only continue to spread and worsen, which is why COP26 takes place at such a crucial time. 

I hope that countries, especially the biggest players in climate politics, prioritize the planet over profit and develop drastically stronger national climate plans that highlight climate actions towards achieving the Paris Agreement. I hope that climate finance leverages the vast resources of the private sector to support a robust global transition towards greener technologies and processes. I hope decision makers will finally hear and amplify the voices of those most affected by the climate crisis––from coastal communities to youth activists to Indigenous environmental defenders.

Can these hopes become a reality in time, before it’s too late? I’m looking forward to finding out in a few weeks. As a young person deeply concerned about the state of our planet and its inhabitants, it’s an honor to be part of the conversation.

About the author:

Francesca Edralin is a 2021 Planet Forward Comcast Sustainable Storytelling Fellow, 2020-21 Planet Forward Correspondent, and 2021 Planet Forward Storyfest winner. She is in her final semester at The George Washington University pursuing a B.A in International Affairs with minors in Journalism and Mass Communication and Sustainability. Although she grew up in New Jersey, her family comes from the Philippines, one of the countries currently most severely impacted by climate change and environmental conflict. Her background led her to be passionate about environmental issues––especially looking at the climate crisis through a global lens and understanding how climate change disproportionately impacts the world’s poorest countries and communities.

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climate action, climate change, cop26, politics, youth

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