The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) was recently held in Glasgow, Scotland from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12. The summit drew praise for agreements to rein in deforestation and methane emissions, along with ire from those who thought it did not go far enough to cut emissions significantly and prevent environmental collapse.
Famed 18-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted that when it comes to the climate crisis at large, “‘small steps in the right direction,’ ‘making some progress’ or ‘winning slowly’ [equal] losing.” As for COP26, she summarized it as “blah, blah, blah,” and said that “the real work” was still to be done.
Rami, a sophomore at Torrey Pines High School and a member of the environmental group Citizens’ Climate Lobby, echoed this sentiment.
“They’ve made some good policies, but it’s not enough. Which is sort of the pattern that’s been going on for the last few decades,” Rami said.
Citizens’ Climate Lobby is currently working to get a bill that would establish a carbon tax through congress.
“Feeling powerless is not going to do anything,” Rami said, referring to an outlook he has observed in himself and his peers. “You have to try in any way you can to persuade the people in power to take action.”
Meanwhile, domestic legislation makes some hopeful signs that the United States is headed in the right direction. Mike Levin, the congressional representative for the 49th district of California, discussed the anticipated effects of Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act in a Nov. 13 town hall. Levin said that as a result of the bill, $500 billion would be dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the form of investments in “the way we move goods, the way we move people around, the way we build buildings, and the way we grow food.”
“Climate change doesn’t care if you’re in a Republican community or a Democratic community. It doesn’t care how you vote. It just exists in scientific practice, just like everything else,” Levin said.
There are still steps governments can take to prevent, lessen, or reverse the worst effects of climate change. The biggest issue, however, is getting people to care enough to do something about it.
“I feel like it shouldn’t be seen as weird for someone to be interested in climate,” Rami said. “Especially for the younger generation, for them to be worried about the future of our planet.”
Rami hopes that through his work at Citizens’ Climate Lobby and his coverage of climate-related issues in his school paper, he can encourage others to take action.