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climate change COP26 teaching resources

Earthrise

Earthrise – the poem by Amanda Gorman – feels peculiarly relevant to COP26, both inside and outside the venue. Here is an excerpt, and a link to a new teaching resource I’ve created specially for COP26. I hope you and your students will enjoy it.

‘To see it, close your eyes.
Visualize that all of us in this room
and outside of these walls or in the halls, all
of us changemakers are in a spacecraft,
Floating like a silver raft
in space, and we see the face of our planet anew.
We relish the view;
We witness its round green and brilliant blue,
Which inspires us to ask deeply, wholly:
What can we do?
Open your eyes.
Know that the future of
this wise planet
Lies right in sight:
Right in all of us. Trust
this earth uprising.
All of us bring light to exciting solutions never tried before
For it is our hope that implores us, at our uncompromising core, 
To keep rising up for an earth more than worth fighting for.’

Categories
actions climate change COP26 youth

Act Now

Today is Friday and for many young people around the world that means Fridays for Future, the youth movement started by a young girl sitting alone outside the Swedish parliament. Greta was soon joined by others and today let’s celebrate youth activists at COP 26 and everywhere who have courageously stepped up to hold their elders to account for the future of the planet: people like Mitzi Jonelle Tan, Dominika Lasota and Vanessa Nakate.

You can support them right now by joining the nearly 1.7 million people who have signed their Emergency Appeal for Climate Action.

But don’t stop there! You can make changes in your daily life that, multiplied by millions of other people, will add up to a huge difference. You can also help influence your family, your school, your community or – like ELT Footprint UK – your profession.

As Greta says, “As citizens across the planet, we urge you to face up to the climate emergency. Not next year. Not next month. Now”

Categories
actions climate change COP26

We are Watching

As COP26 enters another day, there has already been an agreement by over 100 countries to reduce methane emissions, an international agreement on deforestation that includes Brazil and Russia and $8.5 billion dollars to help South Africa – a major emitter of greenhouse gases – end its reliance on coal. Over 40 world leaders have also pledged to fund clean technology around the world. And India came forward with a promise to reach net zero by 2070 – 20 years too late but still a big step forward.

The methane agreement looks particularly promising as rapid reductions in production of this potent greenhouse gas could have an almost immediate effect on global warming.

But we have been here before and grand words have failed to meet their full promise: see Climate Tracker. Greta Thunberg calls this “blah, blah, blah” and she is often right – for example she was one of the first to call out the UK for not counting the greenhouse gases it produces from international aviation, shipping and imports. Already the UK’s COP26 promise to become the world’s first net zero finance centre looks wishy washy without being enshrined in law.

But if we are to address the Earth emergency there really is no alternative to global meetings, agreements and government actions. And it is getting easier to hold countries to account on their promises: big data from satellites for example can now show us immediately where methane is being emitted and forest are being cleared.

The British Prime Minister left COP26 expressing ‘cautious optimism’ to the outcome of the meeting. Maybe he believes his own words, but the UK can hardly expect to be counted a world leader on climate change or lecture others when it reduces tariffs on domestic flights and prevaricates on new coal mines and oil fields. Still, if populist leaders really do see the need to catch up with public opinion – and can be held to account – that might be a good thing.

Whatever the outcome of COP26 we will all continue to do what we can in our own lives, communities and professional spheres of influence. And we will all be watching. Expectations have been raised and governments will fail to meet them at their peril.