Students Express Concern Over the Lack of Worldwide Climate Action as Discussions in Glasgow Come to An End



Many Wauwatosa West students have been attempting to take individual action to protect the environment as the United States government and big corporations fail to meet their expectations.

Claire Guttormson, Writer

As world leaders continue their decade-long dance over climate action at the UN climate summit in Glasgow accompanied by a score of protests and a spiral of continuously more dismal news, young people around the globe await the decisions that will decide their futures. 

“It would be really pleasing as a young person to see young people valued in this discussion,” said Tosa West freshman Lilly Murat, “I see a lot of world leaders who are mainly people who will only be around for so much longer and they’re making decisions that will affect us and if we choose our children very greatly impact their future and if they have a future.”

Young people, especially those of high school and college age, have been a driving force behind climate movements since the 1960’s. They continue to be some of the loudest voices calling for change today with names such as Greta Thunberg being widely recognizable. 

“I think we have a really strong generation and we have a lot of opportunity. But every day that opportunity grows less and less because of the actions made by older people who aren’t going to face the facts,” said Murat.

Near the beginning of this year, President Biden announced a plan to cut Co2 emissions by 50% of 2005 levels by 2030. However many are critical of what could be strong words not backed by any true plan for action. 

“They apparently have a plan but literally, I haven’t seen one,” said Tosa West Senior Cooper Krause. 

There is a lot of danger in these vague words as they decide a future that is coming quickly. 

“I think it’s a lot of open ended claims, without any real life action to make them seem like realistic goals,” said Murat. “It’s just empty words for an empty future.”

Most teenagers have very simple wishes for their political leaders in regards to climate action. Tosa West sophomore Daisy Lehman said that she hopes the US government will focus on prioritizing the environment.

“This is the place where future generations are going to have to live and if we can’t make it sustainable, then what’s going to happen?” said Lehman.

There are more specific steps that the United States will need to take to protect the future of the Earth and of newer generations, but in general, “We should be putting it on our to-do list to be a little kinder to the earth,” said Murat. 

The COP26, which began Sunday the 31st, ends this Friday and is set to leave many disappointed, but not surprised.

“They had this entire summit and what happened?” said Krause,  “Literally nothing. Like even Obama is yelling at them on Instagram like, come on now, you know you’re not doing enough when Obama is yelling at you on Instagram.”

The COP26 was the largest international gathering besides the Olympics since the pandemic started, making it a good opportunity for a sense of unity. 

“They need to work together to assure this world is preserved for future generations, because it’s really important that these generations that come after we die get the same resources [],” said Lehman, “It’s just very unfair of us to use up [everything] and leave them with nothing. And I feel like it’s important that we just try the best that we can to make this world healthier and cleaner.”

In order to create such a world actions must be taken, but where that responsibility should fall is not yet universally decided upon.

“We can advocate people to start driving electric cars like okay, that’s really not gonna do anything if we don’t start putting taxes on the companies that are contributing to the majority of carbon emissions emitted by the country,” said Krause.

Students often find themselves feeling powerless in the face of a threat as large as the climate crisis. Although the question of impact weighs heavily as the US government remains seemingly immobile, young people have made attempts at individual actions to protect the environment, such as using reusable straws and walking instead of driving. 

“Each choice that we make, should be towards a healthier world, because that will never be bad. ” said Murat, “When we go to bed at night […] and hope for something better. We can only hope for so much, I think if we talk to one another and start making plans to work together for a brighter future. That would be really beautiful.”