Updated: Dec 7, 2021
Sibel Sezer, 12 November 2021
The countdown to the finish line of the UN COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow has begun. Today is the last official day of the negotiations, with a possibility to spill into the weekend. Intense negotiations started months ago in preparation of the conference and continued with even higher intensity during the past two weeks. Regardless of countless discussions on the outcome of the negotiations, consensus on the urgency to act on climate change has never been higher!
There was lots of optimism before COP26. A growing number of countries and businesses have been stepping up to the challenge of transitioning to a low carbon economy. Each day a new country or company made pledges for Net Zero, albeit with different target dates. Countless initiatives seemed to be on display proudly illustrating their transformation road maps. The “climate community” was certainly working hard! However, the optimism once felt seemed to fade away the last days of COP26. Scientists are loudly voicing their concerns about expectations not being met. They are warning us that if we do not act fast enough dire consequences can be expected. Commitments made by countries are simply not sufficient to attain the 1.5C goal. Countries are now being asked to upgrade their climate targets by 2022, postponing hard choices for COP27 to be held in Egypt.
For the past couple of decades, we witnessed “visionaries” working hard to convince policymakers, businesses, and citizens to take climate change seriously. Today it is clear that this challenge is too big to be solved by the enlightened few. Outspoken youth activists from all over the world are increasingly questioning the slow pace of real change and are forming large communities to facilitate increased action. So why are some leaders in this transformation, and some are still laggards? Why are some businesses willing to undertake high expenses to enable a low carbon transition while others refuse to act? Why do some teenagers feel climate anxiety and others really do not care? How did some cities adopt a clear road map in achieving zero carbon by 2030 and others have not even started the process? Currently there are no clear answers, however, I would say there is a direct correlation between the level of knowledge about the climate crisis and the realization of the urgency to shift towards a zero-carbon economy.
Knowledge and understanding of the climate crisis will inevitably increase the speed of transformation towards a low carbon global economy. The Istanbul Climate Academy has been established to add to the knowledge and skill base on climate change primarily in Turkey and neighboring regions. Countries within the Black Sea region, MENA and South East Europe can benefit from capacity building programs in order to join the “race towards zero carbon”.
By increasing our understanding of climate change and the urgency of mitigating it, countries and stakeholders may be able to take a more proactive role in shaping the future. As the Istanbul Climate Academy, our mission is to facilitate the capacity building efforts of developing countries in transitioning towards a low carbon economy. It may seem difficult to stay optimistic when there are so many challenges to overcome. However, its best to be cautiously optimistic and speed up our transformation rather than to give in to failure. We are ready to play our part in “uniting the world to tackle climate change”!