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What we can do after COP26

71% of global emissions are produced by just 100 companies, so the most important decision we can make to protect our earth is deciding to engage with our political systems and advocate for system change.

COP26 is over, and to say it was disappointing is an understatement.

One minister was excluded from meetings due to being a wheelchair user- and I would like to note that using a wheelchair is not a particular access need. Especially when attending a modern conference building for world leaders. 1 billion people are disabled. It is not their responsibility to declare their medical condition in order to be treated like a human being. The media specialise in writing inflammatory headlines instead of focusing on progress we can make with the available solutions.

We cannot isolate these issues into accessibility and sustainability, the issue is exclusivity and an all round lack of compassion. Exclusivity not only in attendance, but in the attitude that world leaders are not responsible for those who are suffering from climate change right now. Lack of compassion not only towards vulnerable communities, but towards the earth.

It is not just disabled people who have been left out of this conference, but the people who are right now, as you read this, being impacted the most by climate change. Indigenous people, frontline activists, and vulnerable communities have not been given a platform. 

One thing is abundantly clear: our global purpose must be to limit Global Warming to 1.5ºC. In the coming months, and years, we must all be active in holding our leaders to account and ensuring they do all they can to prevent further destruction from the climate crisis. 

At a local level, it is easy to feel hopeless, like nothing we do can make a difference, but that is not true. We are not powerless within our systems, we are the system. There is so much we can do, and so much that needs to be done. Here are a few ideas.

💡Remember that ableism and climate change are connected issues, not separate. 

💰 British Banks finance 805M tonnes of CO2 production per year, so switching your bank account, investments, and pension to eco-friendly alternatives that don’t directly support the fossil fuel industry is not only the easiest lifestyle change you can make, but also the most impactful. For a list of ethical banks click here!

❓Question every headline you read, every promise you hear- are they backed up with fact-checked evidence and actionable, solid steps to move us forward? 

❗️Ask for access even if you’re not disabled, call out restaurants and buildings and venues for not being accessible, write to companies and your local representatives so that disabled people don’t have to be the only ones ‘making a fuss’ (AKA asking for their basic human rights.)

🦮 When creating an event think about access in the planning stages, not after a disabled person has been waiting 2 hours outside. 

👩‍💻 Include access information on your website, leaflets, and invitations.

📰 Don’t let divisive headlines from the media and distraction tactics from politicians make you forget the planet. 

🌍 Our global purpose is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Remind yourself and your friends that the focus is our planet’s future, not present politics. 

🛍 Buying second hand and mending our clothes instead of buying fast fashion is another good way to reduce our carbon footprint. Eating less meat, taking public transport, avoiding flights, reducing plastic and investing in reusable items like tote bags, or water bottles, as well as swapping every-day items to refillable/packaging free items. This can be done with deodorant, shampoo, toothbrushes, and many other body products as well as food items.

However, not all these options are always accessible or affordable since we don’t have policies to regulate them. They aren’t the most beneficial things we can do, because even if they were available to everybody, 71% of global emissions are produced by just 100 companies, so the most important decision we can make to protect our earth is deciding to engage with our political systems and advocate for system change. Because only plastic free, electrical vehicle friendly, affordable public transportation, and sustainable food policies can make the difference we need to stop climate change. Only the government can hold these companies to account and establish the laws needed to keep our environment safe!