You’ve probably heard that COP26 is happening now – that’s the UN’s Climate Change Conference for those not in the know. This gathering of world leaders has been happening for nearly three decades, and it’s believed by some to be “the world’s best last chance to get runaway climate change under control.”
So why does outspoken climate activist Greta Thunberg dismiss world leaders’ promises with the words “blah, blah, blah”?
Glance through the COP26 goals and it’s plain to see that they neatly dovetail with the core principles of the circular economy: designing out waste and pollution in how we make things, keeping products in use for longer and regenerating natural systems.
Companies, like us, who work within circular systems – and by extension, the consumers, like you, who buy from them – could be considered to be “doing their bit” by enabling and enacting ways to live more consciously in the home. But are world leaders doing enough to address the concerns of passionate Gen Zers like Greta, or are they just (as she accuses) making empty promises?
Of course, concern for the climate is by no means limited to the young – as the appointment of national treasure Sir David Attenborough as COP26 People’s Advocate attests. But Gen Z feels the urgency perhaps more than older folk because the effects of climate change will impact them more than any previous generation.
Indeed, research published recently showed that children born today would experience many times more extreme heatwaves and other climate disasters over their lifetimes than their grandparents, even if countries fulfil their current emissions pledges. The problem is that when it comes to effecting change, it’s older generations who have the spending power and who can vote with their wallets.
It’s a reflection of the concerns of younger generations that when COP26 was delayed last year due to Covid, young people around the world held ‘Mock26’ – an online gathering that made “a powerful statement showing the ambition and dreams of young people worldwide fighting for a fair, equal and green world”. They came up with 18 “ambitious yet realistic” policies spanning a number of key themes, including climate education and climate justice.
So can we expect the same from the real COP26? Will it be all talk, or can we expect concrete action on climate change? And will we see a generational difference between these two things? Only time will tell...
Kate & Louise
Co-founders now, sit down