What realistic goals does Dr. Goodall think COP26 could achieve in the short term?

  • Jane Goodall, 2020 Tang Prize Laureate in Sustainable Development
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The United Kingdom will be hosting the United Nations Climate Change Summit (COP26) at Glasgow from October 31 to November 12. The British government has announced that Dr. Jane Goodall, 2020 Tang Prize winner in Sustainable Development, had been invited to serve as the COP26 Advocate.


COP26 is the 26th annual gathering of the 197 signatory parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), where they discuss climate change as well as the response plans and pledges each country has made, and the actions they took. What realistic goals does Dr. Goodall think COP26 could achieve in the short term? Well, she thinks it’s time to stop talking the talk, and start walking the walk. Everyone can make a difference. What really matters is to take action.  


Below are excerpts from an online interview between a correspondent from the Central News Agency and Dr. Goodall.


If people could be made to understand that their behavior collectively is going to making a difference. That would be really one huge major accomplishment. I hope that it’s not like so many of these huge organizations where people just talk, talk, talk….Talking too much and promising to do things which don’t get done. The agreements need to have teeth in them so they will be, you know, like the Paris Agreement was wonderful, but how many nations actually fulfilled their commitment to reduction of emissions. I don’t think any of them did. Of those that seem to have done well in reducing emissions, they were sending their dirty industries overseas.

“I just hope that we’ve woken up enough and I mean, look, climate change isn’t something that might happen in the future. You’ve just got to look at what’s happening, the fires, the floods. The hurricane season now started with more hurricanes than ever, and probably damaging ones. Then there have been heatwaves that kill people… in other places. Climate change has changed weather patterns all around the world and we are suffering in it. Hopefully enough people have woken up to realize unless we learn to live in harmony with the natural world, then the future is bleak.”

That’s why I spend so much time with young people because young people… They understand the problem and you empower them to take action. Our Roots and Shoots groups are changing the world. They get it. They understand it. They talk about the problems that interest them. Some of them care about animals, some about the environment, some about people. They talk about what they can do and then they roll up their sleeves and they get out there and they do it. It’s planting trees, it’s writing letters and it’s clearing up streams. It’s doesn’t matter whatever they want to do, volunteering in shelters and soup kitchens.”

“If every individual makes ethical choices every day in what they buy, eat, well, it will make a huge difference. And one major problem is a number of people who've been eating more and more meat, because feeding all these billions of animals destroys the environment. Grow the grains, masses of fossil fuel to get the grains to the animals, and the animals to the table as meat, and the water wasted changing vegetable to animal protein, and they're all producing methane gas. It's [a] very virulent greenhouse gas…We have to tackle climate change. Tell people not to be overwhelmed. Just to tackle what they can do, everybody in their own place, then cumulatively. That’s the kind of change we need. (Correspondent: We can start from our, our everyday life.) Yes, and it will make a difference.”