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World changers: Bristol students head to COP26 climate conference

Carlos Shanka and Emily Muir - article

University of Bristol students Carlos Shanka and Emily Muir

Press release issued: 3 November 2021

University of Bristol students at COP26 have said the conference is “one of the very last chances” to avert a climate disaster.

Forty-five Bristol students will be in Glasgow for the global event, where world leaders will thrash out solutions to the climate crisis from October 31 to November 12.

The students will take part in events, share ideas and join others in calling for change.

Six of the students have received funding to stay in Glasgow all week, where they will communicate their experience to the world through blogs, videos, photos and articles. The other 39 have been given free travel to the event.

Carlos Shanka, a third year biology student and President of the Bristol University Sustainability Team, said: "It is now or never. We young people have created incredible momentum. I have met world leaders at COY16 [the youth equivalent of COP26] and COP26 so far, and they provide my last spring of hope for the future.”

“We have come together from all parts of the world and, unlike global leaders, we are joining forces to tackle the biggest hazard facing our world: climate change.

“I see COP26 as one of the very last chances we have to stop our world’s turning point. Are we going to let people in 2050 say that we failed?

“As a representative for Spain, I have met and interviewed incredible people during COY16. I’m uploading my insights onto my social media, and I have seen them raising their voices and leading by example. Youth brings hope to me. We are really doing our best, and we will not stop until we accomplish the necessary level of ambition.”

Bristol SU organised for the student delegation to go to Glasgow, including arranging free bus travel for all 45 students, creating a programme for the fully-funded delegation of six and supporting students to make the most of their time at COP-26. Funding for the six students came from Cabot Institute for the Environment and the University’s generous alumni community. 

Emily Muir, a third year geography student, said: “At COP26, we are aiming to have our voices heard as well as hearing and acting on the voices of those heavily affected by climate change yet have been systemically and historically ignored, such as indigenous communities.

The People’s Summit for Climate Justice is working to organise system change together, this presents an alternative to COP negotiations which can be unfairly handled by corporations with outside interests.”

Claire Adamson, who is studying for a Masters in law, arrives in Glasgow on Thursday. She said: “Climate change has been talked about heavily since Greta Thunberg's infectious determination spread around the world a few years ago.

“Now, though, COP26 must be about action. Finding bold and innovative solutions for businesses, governments and consumers to enforce at all levels to mitigate a worldwide, irrevocable disaster is now the focus. There are a growing number of environmental activists worldwide, which is brilliant, but it isn't enough to talk about all things climate change as fascinating as it is.

“I'm looking forward to going to COP26 to better understand and challenge powerful actors to enforce the systematic changes needed for biodiversity and climate goals to be achieved. There are many opportunities that come with the planet's human induced heating, and I'm excited to go to COP26 to keep investigating these ideas among a passionate base of activists of all types from all walks of life."

The Cabot Institute is a community of 600 experts, united by a common cause: protecting the environment and identifying ways of living better with a changing planet.

On November 11 the Institute, Praxis Research and Bristol City Council are hosting Mock-COP, a negotiation experience for young people where they can learn about climate politics.

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