Discover how to take part in climate action during COP26 and beyond.
This guest article is by Joycelyn Longdon, founder of Climate in Colour; an online community and education platform that makes conversations about climate change more accessible and diverse. Joycelyn is also undertaking an MRes + PHD at Cambridge University to study the application of artificial intelligence to climate change.
This November, some of the most important climate talks will take place during the 26th annual climate summit: COP26. COP stands for Conference of the Parties and brings together global governments, leaders, companies and organisations to discuss, and ultimately make decisions on our futures. The climate crisis stands as one of the greatest threats to life as we know it, making the action taken at COP26, and beyond, crucial.
Yet many feel disillusioned by COP26, which can appear as just another talk conducted behind the closed doors of government officials, made inaccessible to the public.
The COP proceedings are spread across two zones, the Blue Zone and the Green Zone. The Blue Zone hosts the formal proceedings between governments, researchers and activists accredited and registered with the UN body that coordinates the talks.
The Green Zone is open to the public and hosts range of events, activations, demonstrations, exhibitions and talks. It is here that huge opportunities arise for everyday people to use the momentum of this global gathering to demand and create change as a community; shifting from individualism to focus on community action.
Joycelyn Longdon is the founder of @Climateincolour
What actions can you take during COP26?
Participating in COP26 couldn't have been made easier thanks to the incredible work from the COP26 Coalition, a UK-based civil society coalition of groups and individuals mobilising around climate justice (see glossary). Here are some key actions you can take during the conference, all facilitated by the coalition:
- Volunteer at COP26: In collaboration with Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, COP26 Coalition needs volunteers throughout the event. There are a variety of roles to be filled and shifts up for grabs and you will be provided with training and support ahead of the event. Check out the Info Pack here and sign up here.
- Homestay Network: Live in the central belt of Scotland and have a spare room or floor space? Support the climate justice movement at COP26 by offering that space to a guest. Accommodation in the city gets expensive very quickly, posing a huge barrier for groups and individuals with low resources. Offering someone a place to stay facilitates more equitable representation of marginalised communities at COP26.
- Global Day of Action for Climate Justice: The COP26 Coalition is also organising localised actions across the world, "bringing together movements to build power for system change". Find your local hub and get involved in the day's actions.
- People's Summit for Climate Justice: After the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice, there will be a hybrid (online and in person) People's Summit. Sign up to discuss, learn and create strategies for system change with others.
If it’s to be successful and equitable, COP26 needs to hear from all voices – especially those from vulnerable or marginalised communities. Barriers set by the UK Home Office, which are further compounded by the unequal distribution of vaccines globally and lack of online infrastructure that makes in-person attendance essential, hinder the just representation of the Global Majority at COP26. Unite For Climate Action, a diverse group of young people from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe are working to make COP26 more accessible by raising funds to help young activists attend the event. You can support their fundraiser here.
What climate action can you take year-round?
It is important that the action and mobilisation inspired by the conference has longevity. If you feel motivated to use COP26 as a springboard for your own activism and a chance to become part of a community and influence systems change, consider joining or supporting an environmental or climate organisation that works year-round in the name of climate action.
- Green New Deal Rising is a movement focused on changing the narrative, disrupting the political system and forcing politicians to face up to the scale of the crisis. This is a great organisation to get involved with if you want to get out there and use your voice to talk directly to politicians and get them to make changes on climate. Sign-up for a welcome call here.
- Stop Cambo: An incredibly embarrassing development for the UK ahead of the COP26 is that the government are set to give the green light to plans put forward by energy company Siccar Point and oil giant Shell to open a huge new oil field in the Cambo Field, in the sea West of Shetland. There is still a chance to stop this dangerous project from going ahead and no better time than ahead of COP26, where the UK will be under pressure to uphold its self-titled position as "leaders of climate action". Head over to the Stop Cambo website for more details on the actions you can take.
- Greenpeace: You have probably heard of this organisation, but Greenpeace has been campaigning against climate injustices globally for decades. You can sign up for a welcome call and join them as a volunteer or take a look at their webpage full of specific climate actions you can take to support their various campaigns. Whether that’s organising an inspiring talk or stopping the sale of Amazon land on Facebook.
- Fossil Free UK: Fossil Free UK is a global campaign led by local groups demanding that their communities and institutions commit to three key actions: a fast and just transition to 100% renewable energy for all, a ban on new fossil fuel projects anywhere and divestment from dirty energy. They ask public institutions to cut their political, social and financial ties to the fossil fuel industry. Get involved here.
- Friends of the Earth: Friends of the Earth are an international community dedicated to protecting the wellbeing of planet and people. They lead campaigns, provide resources and information, and drive real solutions to the environmental problems we are facing. They have over 250 Climate Action groups that are made up of everyday people, working together to make their communities more climate friendly and helping drive change nationwide. Join a local Friends of the Earth hub here.
- Paid to Pollute: Paid to Pollute are taking the UK government to court for "propping up the oil and gas industry with billions of pounds”. The claimants are fighting for proper government policies and investment in green energy to avoid wasting "another chance to invest in our future". You can support by signing the petition and keeping up with their newsletter where there will be updates on their COP26 events.
- UKYCC: The UK Youth Climate Coalition are a voluntary, consensus led, non-hierarchical and non-profit organisation with members from all across the UK, each sharing a common goal to achieve genuine global climate justice. Stay up to date with the coalition to find out when their next webinar series is on.
- UKSCN: Another amazing youth group is the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) is an amazing group of mostly under 18s taking to the streets to protest the government’s lack of action on the climate crisis. They are mobilising unprecedented numbers of students to create a strong movement and send a message that we are tired of being ignored. Check out their interactive map to find a local group.
You can also commit to local action through local citizen's assemblies, joining a community garden and participating in food sharing in your neighbourhood and campaigning with groups in your local area (a quick google should provide a wealth of answers).
Climate action is a lifelong journey. Let COP26 be the start of yours.
- COP26 - the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference.
- Divestment - the opposite of investment, taking stocks and shares out of an industry or company.
- Climate Justice - a term and movement that acknowledges the intersecting impacts climate change has with regard to social, economic and public health especially on marginalised and vulnerable communities.
- Global Majority - a collective term referring to Black, African, Asian, Brown, dual-heritage, indigenous, global south individuals or those who have been racialised as 'ethnic minorities'. Globally these groups currently represent approximately eighty per cent (80%) of the world's population, making them the global majority.
Want to find out what other climate terms mean? Read our climate change glossary.