Presenting at COP26 – and why Climate Action should matter to Charities

Visualising Climate

With support from Rank’s Sharing Good Practice bursary, I recently attended COP26, the UN climate summit in Glasgow.

The international conference has dominated the news, as global leaders attempt to negotiate an international agreement for climate action.

Alongside the political negotiations, the COPs provide a platform for civic society to present research findings and climate solutions and engage the public. In this capacity, I was pleased to present the findings of our partnership project “Visualising Climate”, in association with researcher Professor Alison Anderson of the University of Plymouth Sustainable Earth Institute and creative organisation Scarlet Design.

Taking Young People’s Voices to a Global Stage

The wider project has been a fascinating platform and collaboration to build on research into young people’s views on climate and how the media impacts upon youth engagement – an area that appears to be surprisingly under-researched despite the rise of social media drastically altering how young people get their news and views.

The invitation to present at COP26 provided a unique opportunity to share our work and for us to give a platform for the views of young people at the international summit. We focussed our session on bringing in youth voices wherever possible, weaving in video interviews with students from Plymouth and Devon and an invited panel including international youth climate activists. 

You can watch the session back on the COP26 YouTube channel.

Grassroots Climate Action

As COP26 ends this week, the mainstream media focus will likely be on the lack of tangible political outcomes and lack of ambition in the final agreements – not unreasonable criticisms after 29 years of very slow progress.

However, for much of the public, COP26 will be seen (if it’s been noticed at all) as a distant political spectacle with little relevance to daily life.

This is where I believe charities, social enterprises and civic society organisations can have a vital role, with our connections to ‘grassroots’ communities and our unique ability to talk in language that makes sense to the individuals we work with, we can translate the language of policy into a conversation everyone can engage with.

Climate action should matter to charities and social purpose organisations because, with the right policies and vocal public support, action on climate can also be action on poverty, action on injustice and the opportunity to build a fairer,  more inclusive and compassionate society.

Photo by Josh Greet