Experts agree that COP26 is the most important international climate summit since the Paris Agreement. So it’s only natural that you might want to be involved in the moment, even from afar. Climate action is, after all, a collective effort.
At COP26 in Glasgow in early November, governments from all over the planet will try to set binding commitments for reducing carbon emissions. Their ultimate goal is keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. So, this United Nations event is a potential milestone on par with the COP21 summit in Paris, which produced the Paris Agreement. The “COP” in COP26 stands for Conference of the Parties, and it stands tall in the overlapping world of climate negotiations, treaties, and agreements.
You may have questions about how to engage with what happens at COP26, as well as with its larger context of climate action. Questions like:
- What are good social media accounts and hashtags to follow?
- What media outlets will be covering the latest news?
- Are there grassroots activism movements you can participate in?
- What are the corporate sector and industry groups doing?
Here, we’ll sort through these questions and more to give a better understanding of how everyday people can both educate and empower themselves during COP26.
How to Follow COP26 on Social Media
Good news! The United Nations has a page dedicated to just this. There, you’ll find Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube channels, and more for official United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) channels in multiple languages. The UNFCCC is basically the United Nations arm dedicated to managing global warming in a coordinated way across the world. Here are some highlights from that page:
The official @COP26 Twitter page is another good account to follow. And the UN has two “climate champions,” whose work is focused on connecting international climate action efforts with similar projects by local and regional governments, as well as industry groups. The two current champions, who are both on Twitter and both post frequently about climate action, are:
- Gonzalo Muñoz of Chile
- Nigel Topping of the United Kingdom
⏰ It’s time to implement the #ParisAgreement #COP26 #ClimateAction pic.twitter.com/zYg06YhItT
— UN Climate Change (@UNFCCC) October 21, 2021
On Twitter, where news tends to break first and conversation is constant, you can also track the COP26 action via hashtags and follow topics. Relevant hashtags include:
Relevant topics to follow on Twitter include:
If all that isn’t enough, Climate Reality also has a list of top climate experts to follow on Twitter.
And finally, here are a few of our favorite influencers who post about sustainability, green living, and climate action.
- Leah Thomas—better known as Green Girl Leah—is an intersectional environmentalist, climate justice advocate, and founder of The Intersectional Environmentalist Platform. You can follow here on Instagram, on TikTok, and on Twitter.
- Under the Desk News provides offbeat but informative TikTok recaps of what’s going on in the world. They’ve obviously struck a chord with users, amassing 1.5 million followers to date.
- Both on Instagram and on TikTok, Shelbi (@shelbizleee) makes sustainability fun with posts about everything from how to prepare zero-waste snacks, to her favorite environmentally responsible brands.
- Lauren Ferree has amassed more than 180,000 online followers thanks to her equal-parts-helpful-and-humorous posts about sustainable living. Her handle is @relauren on Instagram and on TikTok.
- Isaias Hernandez is an educator who shares tips on topics from mushroom foraging to making clothes last longer to how climate change intersects with other topics. His handle is @queerbrownvegan on Instagram and on TikTok.
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How to Stay Up on the News from COP26 and Beyond
Social media and grassroots organizations are great, but sometimes you just want to read a solid news article. Here are several well-respected outlets that will be good sources for information about COP26, as well as about global warming, climate action, and energy transition overall.
Grist.org is a nonprofit, independent media site that’s been in operation since 1999.
RealClimate.org features perspectives on climate change from actual climate scientists.
Earthsight is a nonprofit organization that produces powerful investigative journalism related to climate and the environment.
The New York Times‘ Climate Fwd newsletter is a good, succinct way to stay up-to-date.
The Guardian is known for its excellent environmental coverage.
If you’re a bit wonky, The Energy News Network is a nonprofit site that tracks the transition to clean power.
Inside Climate News is a nonprofit site that covers climate and environmental topics comprehensively, and won a 2013 Pulitzer Prize.
If you’re still searching for more, here are 26 of our favorite podcasts and newsletters about the climate crisis and sustainability.
How to Find COP26 Virtual Events
Buying a ticket to Glasgow may not be feasible for you (or good for our planet), but one way to increase your knowledge and engagement around the central issues of COP26 is through virtual events. Here, there is no shortage of options. To find events most pertinent to your own interests, we recommend searching for events with specific angles— for example, “What COP26 events are focused on intersectionality?” But in the meantime, the following list should help get you started.
- The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative, a global partnership between the UN and the finance sector, will run a program before and during COP26 that revolves around the role of finance in climate action.
- The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development will host a “COP26 Virtual Pavilion” with two weeks of seminars that focus on all facets of climate action.
- The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has a robust lineup of COP26 sessions that can be attended virtually, covering everything from automotive carbon emissions to investing in nature-positive land use.
- UK Research and Innovation, a government body that funds scientific progress, will host a series of online events during COP26; you can learn more and register here.
- Climate Action, an organization that works to connect business and public bodies around ecologically friendly development, is putting together a “Sustainable Innovation Forum” during COP26. The agenda includes climate finance, public-private partnerships, resilient infrastructure, and more.
- CDP, which was formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project and is a nonprofit that helps organizations manage their environmental impact, is hosting a series of events largely focused on the intersection of finance and climate.
- The COP26 YouTube channel should also be a good source for livestreams and recordings of events at the conference.
How to Volunteer for Climate and Environmental Action
Coalitions of citizens working together can have a powerful impact for the environment. If you’d like to get involved with volunteering for climate and environmental action in your local community, here are a few leads to follow:
The Sierra Club has a wealth of information about how to find a local chapter and volunteer out in the natural world, or how to volunteer from home if that better suits your preferences and abilities.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency tasked with caring for natural habitats and the animals that call them home, has a page all about how to start volunteering.
Trout Unlimited works to protect rivers and streams, and its members donate more than 700,000 hours of time every year; you can find out how to get involved here.
LandScope America, a site developed in partnership with The National Geographic Society and other organizations, has a great interactive map that shows national, regional, and local conservation groups you can explore getting involved with.
Meetup.com’s conservation page has more than 265,000 members spanning more than 250 groups.
How to Get Involved with Grassroots Activism
Maybe just following COP26 isn’t enough for you. Maybe you want to get more actively involved. There’s no shortage of grassroots groups organizing around climate action. Whether you want to meet up in person, join an organization, or just sign a petition, here are some options:
- The COP26 Coalition is a collection of grassroots groups with global reach. It’s staging a “Global Day of Action for Climate Justice” on November 6, which will include local marches and actions in multiple countries. It’s also holding a “People’s Summit for Climate Justice” from November 7 to 10; you can join online from anywhere.
- The Climate Justice Alliance will have a delegation at COP26 in Glasgow, but there are numerous ways to get involved with the group’s work no matter where you are.
- The Sierra Club has several petitions you can sign in support of climate action and social justice; one is even specific to US climate negotiators who will be at COP26.
- Climate Reality are among the other groups that focus on climate policy and related issues—they all have local chapters, so it could be worth seeing if there’s one near you.
How to Get Your Company or Industry Involved in COP26
You don’t have to wait until you’re off the clock to start helping save the planet. There are even ways to participate in climate action through the lens of your job or career.
Industry associations often align companies from one sector around a shared goal of enhancing environmental stewardship. For example, the Net-Zero Banking Alliance is a global organization of leading financial institutions working to align their investment portfolios with reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition seeks to make the clothing sector greener. Meanwhile, certified B Corporations are companies from a variety of sectors that have been vetted for meeting certain social and environmental standards, while groups like The Conservation Alliance unite companies around protecting wild places.
“A lot of companies are starting to become more open to adding sustainability to someone’s job description.”
—Samantha Lubow, UC Berkeley
Exploring how to get your organization involved in groups like these can be a great way to amplify your own climate action. Another similar option is the United Nations’ Race to Zero activation.
But it’s important not to be intimidated—no action is too minor to make a positive impact, and you never know where small steps will ultimately lead. Don’t take it from us, though—listen to pros like Samantha Lubow, who started out in a part-time role at campus dining halls when she was an undergrad at UC Davis and now manages sustainability for housing and dining services at UC Berkeley.
“Just starting a recycling or composting program in an office can show leaders you’re passionate and knowledgeable about the topic,” she told Means & Matters. “A lot of companies are starting to become more open to adding sustainability to someone’s job description, or even creating a whole new role.”
Notes: Leah Thomas is a Bank of the West brand ambassador; Bank of the West is a proud sponsor of Under the Desk News, Lauren Ferree, Isaias Hernandez, and Shelbi (@shelbizlee) during COP26.
Bank of the West is a member of The Conservation Alliance.