Rebel’s Teresa Hopp takes a look at the Global citizen climate change event that included a panel of experts and commentators, held on the University of Essex’ campus. She also touched on the recent COP26 summit in Glasgow and whether we met the moment, as time is increasingly running out …

How can we take part in tackling climate change and win others over to do the same? This was the topic of the panel“It’s now or never: Inspiring global action to protect the planet” organised by the university in collaboration with Global Citizen on 9th November.

The event was open for all students as well as alumni and guests. Global Citizen is an NGO aiming to end extreme poverty by 2030. The hour-long discussion was led by Professor Lorna Fox O’Mahony the deputy vice-chancellor of the University.

The panel participants were Michael Sheldrick (Co-founder and Chief Policy, Impact and Government Relations Officer at Global Citizen), Sabrina Elba (actress, model and activist, United Nations IFAD Goodwill Ambassador and Global Citizen Advocate) as well as former Essex student Kindred Motes (Founder and Managing Director at KM Strategies and Senior Impact Advisor at Global Citizen).

All work for Global Citizen and contribute to globalcampaigns and projects regarding climate change and ending extreme poverty. The panel took place in light of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) held in Glasgowbetween 31st October and 12th November.

Ahead of the discussion, Prof Fox O’Mahony pointed out the efforts of the University to fight the climate crisis. The main contributions are the declaration of a climate and ecological emergency 2020 and the announcement of net-zero emissionsby 2035.

In the beginning, the experts commented on their impressions of the COP26. They agreed that the most influential actors, rich countries and big companies, should do more to contribute to the common effort.

At the same time, they emphasised the commitment of smaller countries, which are increasing the pressure on the rich and set clear demands.

Panelist’s answering Questions at Lakeside theatre,the University of Essex

However, it’s still important to mobilise people and build platforms to reach a vast audience. In the course of the discussion, the experts shared advice on how students can get involved and raise awareness of their concerns.

Essex alumnus Kindred Motes (MA International Relations 2014) encouraged students to use their academic knowledge and make it accessible to others.

Thus, they spread the scientific facts behind climate protection,when people talk about climate change, they can use the values of theirdiscussion partner to bridge the topic of climate protection.

People’s voices being the most important instrument, Kindred Motes also addressed the role of social media. He encouraged everyone to use their online presence as a means to demand change and start creating the world they want to live in. Motes claimed that everyone can take part in the change.

Broadcaster David Attenborough speaking to Delegates at COP26 in Glasgow

Michael Sheldrick added that if leaders are addressed directly,“the audacity of ideas” we can initiate the change and lead those in charge in the right direction.

The experts encouragedeveryone to make a stand for their concerns since “we all are shareholders” that have a voice and the right to speak up.

At the same time, the experts emphasised that the main responsibility still lies with the political actors, those must change the fundamental systematic issues. Sabrina Elba also highlighted the role of agriculture and gender equality in this context.

During her work for the UN, her experience was that the global south does not solely need financial help but opportunities for own capital investment, leading to growthand development. Especially female farmers are often excluded from these opportunities.

The main discussion was followed by a brief Q&A sessionwith questions sent in by the audience before the event. The discussion ended with the experts urging everyone not to be afraid to play their role in the battle against climate change.

World leaders at COP26 Summit Glasgow

The agreement of the COP26 was received with mixed feelings by the media and climate campaigners. Representative of many, activist Greta Thunberg expressed her disappointment with the results in Glasgow.

The consequences of climate change will impact the whole lifetime of today’s young generations, the engagement of young people is more important than ever to put pressure on those in power to take action. We have our voice as our most powerful tool to challenge those in charge and inspire others to join us.

 

Teresa Hopp
th18271@essex.ac.uk