COP26: We Are Watching You!

 COP26: We Are Watching You!

An account of our first week in Glasgow, where the world is waiting for epoch-making decisions.

by Elisa Lunardelli | YPA Italy

It’s Sunday morning, “Paradise” by George Ezdra is playing on the phone, I open my eyes and shyly peek out at the hostel room. I’m in Edinburgh, it’s the 31st of October, it’s the first day of COP26. A shiver runs down my spine and I’m instantly completely awake. I’m excited: it’s the beginning of a new adventure.

My roommates, also participants  of  the “Visto climatico” project, are awake too, and clumsily we try to find a way to open the suitcases, move and take the coronavirus lateral flow test that will become part of our daily routine. 

Soon it is 09.15 and our train to Glasgow is leaving. Many people are travelling with us: parties, observers, staff and journalists. We are all thrilled.

Out of the Glasgow Central station, there are electric busses and a typical Scottish drizzle. After a few minutes, we are in the Blue Zone. “Passport and negative Covid-test result please”, tight gates, zigzagged queue, airport-like controls, acknowledge registration, badge -we are officially observes- more checks, and finally the first pavilion: the Action zone.

The first day is dedicated to adjustment: there are never-ending corridors, huge plenary rooms, shops, restaurants, plants, telephone booths, art installations, couches, escalators, uncountable toilets, multiethnic people, all speaking different languages, all bewildered as we are. We are curious about everything, we stop at every stand, take pictures and make thousands of videos. This is a completely new world: it’s vast and various and we can’t wait to show it to the ones that follow us on social media. No event followed today, no Green Zone tour because it’s still closed: the Glasgow Science Centre will be discovered in the next few days.

It’s dark when we go out after our daily briefing. Having dinner together is great: we share what we learnt, our thoughts, impressions and opinions, we discuss and question about the organisation of COP26 and its negotiations, about its effectiveness, utility and importance. 

The week goes by quickly as we see it running behind the train window, among the vivid green Scottish countryside. 

When super tired I lean on the pillow, I smile: what an opportunity! We are part of a gigantic mechanism that just ten years back was closed-doors. We have the possibility to attend plenary sessions, to take part in events organised by civil society, enterprises, States, we have the chance to come to know activists, journalists, observers from all over the world. 

For our team of the Youth Press Agency it is difficult to decide between the uncountable number of events that are offered, to choose what and how to narrate them. It’s not easy to have a limpid and comprehensive look at what is going on. Working as a team is helpful because each one can deepen what interests him or her, make the most of his or her competences, discuss with the others on perceptions and themes that emerge from the conferences. 

This week we wrote articles and posted pictures and videos on Instagram and Facebook. Not only did we report what was decided by the States, but we also highlighted stories and the details that you cannot easily find in the newspapers. On the one hand, we described the important pledges of the countries with respect to stopping deforestation by 2030, cutting down methane emissions of 30% by 2030, or to phase out coal power. On the other hand, we talked about renewable resources, the indigenous people of Amazonia, the role of the religious or youth leaders in fighting climate change, the importance of environmental education for every generation, the experiences of those who decided to arrive at COP26 by bike.
On the first morning a text arrived to me: “Hi Eli!! Have a nice experience. Thanks for what you are doing”. This is the perspective from which I’m trying to live this COP: grateful for the priceless opportunity to closely see this enormous diplomatic effort, trying to critically reflect about what I’m experiencing, and narrating it to the ones that accompany me from their homes.

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