During an inspiring call to action, former Vice President Al Gore pronounced that “political will is itself a renewable resource.” This was reinforced the very next day on the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice, which coincided with the conference’s halfway mark. Taking an afternoon away from the conference, I joined the tens of thousands of people — Greta Thunberg included — who took to the streets of Glasgow to demand greater action and accountability from politicians on climate change. Despite heavy winds and rain, it was invigorating to be surrounded by the tangible passion and energy of people of all ages and backgrounds, showing our solidarity.

What is often less well-known about COPs are the thousands of events that happen outside of the summit venue itself. I was fortunate to participate in a special reception co-hosted by Music4ClimateJustice, Blue Planet Alliance, and EarthX that included talks, film screenings, art exhibits, and presentations. And my final evening in Glasgow was capped off by breathtaking live music as part of a COP26 fringe festival, which focused on the intersection of culture and climate and explored how music and entertainment can play a role in the fight against climate change. Hosted by the UMA Entertainment Group, the not-for-profit concert was headlined by Aurora, along with performances by Sam Fischer and Nick Mulvey. Given that climate change will affect every aspect of life for everyone, everywhere, it is crucial for the issue to be explored not just through political, economic, and scientific lenses but also cultural ones.

COP26 was an eye-opening experience that demonstrated to me the importance of maintaining a balance between promoting ground-level environmental justice while advancing high-level institutional change across sectors. As the conference comes to an end, the world outside of the negotiating rooms waits in anticipation to see the final outcomes.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements and Foundation Environment ‒ Law Society for making this unforgettable trip possible.

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