Two second-year Geography students were delighted to attend COP-26 earlier this month, thanks to alumna Miriam Kennet, the head of the Green Economics Institute delegation. The following short article describes their experiences of the conference: insightful, hopeful and frustrating. 

Having travelled via train from Oxford to Glasgow, the students checked into the conference and visited as many talks and stands as possible, noting down key points and promises from delegations and speakers, particularly regarding intersectionality and indigenous themes. 

One of the things that interested me the most was the the organisation of COP-26. There were blue and green zones. The Blue Zone is a UN-managed space which hosts the negotiations. The Green Zone, on the other hand, is managed by the UK Government, and was a platform for the general public, young people, and activists to have their voices heard. However, most delegates could only access a small proportion of the high profile events in both zones, often with long waits and limit caps. The conference was largely segregated, with delegates often only interacting with other delegates, besides the rare chance of bumping into an industry leader or former-president.  

Another interesting point was the diversity of people from all over the world, most representing key climate organisations. It was refreshing to be surrounded by people so passionate about their causes and research, but more importantly, they didn’t look down on those that wanted to learn more. 

– Muzzy

What were some of their key takeaways from COP-26? How did our students feel upon reflection? The experience left Rhiannon feeling so many emotions: excitement, anger, optimism and disappointment. This was due to the lack of action by world leaders and the tokenism of indigenous communities via epistemological violence. However, Rhiannon notes that intersectional representation is finally forcing its way through to the highest levels in society. The opportunity has motivated them further to make the world a better place. We are only right at the beginning at tackling the climate crisis, but through cooperation, collaboration, intersectional representation and power sharing we can start to fight for climate justice! 

 And Rhiannon is doing just that! In her role as a youth advocate at The Royal College of Psychiatrists, Rhiannon is making her voice heard on the topic of climate justice. Have a look at her featuring in a podcast on ‘coping with climate anxiety’ here.