COP26 and the Climate Crisis

Tuesday, 9th November 2021

Jo Coles

iceland winter sunset over jokulsarlon istk

The United Nations Climate Change Conference 2021 kicked off in Glasgow on the 31st October and will run until the 12th November. The #COP26 (Conference of the Parties 26) summit brings nations together to debate actions required to tackle the global climate change crisis, and to review progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Boris Johnson opened the event, remarking that ‘…humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change. It’s one minute to midnight on that doomsday clock and we need to act now.’ He urged world leaders to ‘get serious about climate change today’ because it will be ‘too late for our children tomorrow’. He pointed out the irony and poignance that the conference was being held in Glasgow, where 240 years ago James Watt’s improvements to the steam-powered engine accelerated the Industrial Revolution (his 1781 ‘sun and planet gear’ is seen as a key moment since power sources could henceforth be located anywhere instead of being tied by proximity to water sources and topography, as well as creating the first modern industrialised factory at the Soho Foundry with Boulton. Johnson stated that ‘while COP26 will not be the end of climate change, it can and must mark the beginning of the end.’

During this event, many of you may well be turning to ‘floating topicality’ to spend time with your students considering the climate crisis and sustainable decision making in light of what is being discussed by the world’s leaders. It would seem apt, given the prominence of energy, resource management, waste, deforestation, etc. in the news at this time. If this is the case, you may find some of the following links pertinent. Some are resources created by our team, others are reference links to other websites that could be of use.

Resources links:

Webinars » Useful topics include: Natural Hazards Climate Change, Resource Management – Energy, Norway’s renewable energy & carbon neutrality, To Fly or Not To Fly, Costa Rica Circular Economy.
Student Revision Webinars » Useful topics include: Energy Sustainability, The Challenge of Resource Management (water and energy sessions)
Kids Against Plastic » Tackling Plastic Pollution, ESRI GIS mapping of plastic waste
Whales of Iceland » Sustainable management of whale populations. This resource is useful as a comparison to the Turtles of Costa Rica resource.
Critical Thinking: Perspectives on Sustainability » A thinking skills resource to challenge critical thinking through comparison of different stakeholder viewpoints regarding sustainability and tourism in Iceland as a case study.
Student Guide to Responsible Travel » A useful guide in liaison with the Kids Against Plastic team to engage students in responsible travel and responsible decision making.
Responsible School Travel » A selection of articles and resources discussing responsible travel for schools, the pillars of sustainability, and aims for a sustainable future.
To Fly or Not To Fly » The challenge of going green: a resource that can prompt discussion and debate about the importance of travel.


Twitter accounts » e.g. @climateactiontr , @alxrdk , @vanessa_vash (Climate Activist) @AlexandriaV2005 , particularly this thread on inclusion / exclusion at the venue and unequal representation
ESRI UK Visualisations » Climate change and health visualisations and data mapping, e.g. how hot will it get where you live?
Encountered Edu » Food, farming and the planet lessons covering biodiversity, the carbon cycle, and extreme weather
RGS Online » Atlas of the Invisible: ice flows geovisualisations
GA Online » DEFRA 25 Year Action Plan teaching materials: connect, protect, enhance
UNFCC Blog » Live blog from the UNFCC updating on the conference
Climate Lab Book » A compilation of climate visualisation sources
Show Your Stripes » Coloured warming strips for every country 1850-2020
Royal Meteorological Society Youtube Channel » Daily updates and further information on COP26 discussions.
Office of National Statistics » The first collaborative intergovernmental climate change statistics portal

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