“Hello. Are you listening? Can you hear me? You must listen to this. We need you to listen to us”. These words echoed from the voices of AJTKD’s students in Brazil, alongside the voices of other children and world leaders from all around the world at the COP26 Global Climate Conference in early November.
The COP26 Global Climate Conference, held in Glasgow, Scotland, was the most significant event in the past five years since the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, where world leaders gathered to discuss climate change. The entire world has known of the seriousness and urgency of our climate crisis for years. However, change and progress have been sluggish. A recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change once again emphasized the limited time left to reduce carbon emissions before it gets too late. In light of this report, world leaders and nations met at COP26, also known as the “Conference of the Parties”, to commit to making climate decisions and engage in creating plans to fight climate change. Specifically, nations will be expected to outline and continue their climate change plans from the 2015 Paris Agreement.
This year, the biggest sporting organizations from all around the world, Olympians, athletes, non-profit sports organizations, and sports companies participated in the COP26, including Jadir Taekwondo Association (AJTKD).
Some people may question the reason for the presence of the sports community at such an event. However, the effects of climate change reach sports and their role in joining the fight against climate change is crucial. According to the words of EcoAthletes founder and CEO Lew Blaustin, “Sports and athletes who play them are being impacted by climate change now, from the extreme heat at the recent Tokyo Olympics, to the New Orleans Saints of the NFL needing to play a home game in Jacksonville, Florida due to the devastation of Hurricane Ida, and more”. Hence, the voice of the sports community at COP26 has always been needed.
Alongside 150 athletes, sports teams, and other sports organizations, AJTKD signed the COP26 Sports Community Manifesto, making it over 200 signatories. As a member of the global sporting community, the association used its voice to call for change and commit to four main goals of the COP26 Sports Community Manifesto. These goals included securing global net-zero emissions by 2040 and maintaining 1.5 degrees within reach, prioritizing the protection of communities and natural habitats, mobilizing finance to deliver on the first two goals, and collaborating to finalize the Paris rulebook. Additionally, AJTKD participated online for the opening of nature day at COP26 and the initiative of Sport@COP.
Through AJTKD’s participation in COP26, their students also had the opportunity to join in on this movement for the opening of Nature Day. Several children demonstrated their thoughts about climate change and their voices were presented at the conference. The kids urged people to listen to them and emphasized why forests and oceans were important and why their protection is crucial for the future of their planet.
AJTKD has always been a voice for the environment through its past activities; raising awareness about the climate crisis and engaging students in activities to educate them about climate change. Nevertheless, AJTKD’s direct participation in this year’s COP26 is another huge step and a major milestone in AJTKD’s fight against climate change.