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Local Sydney sustainability advocate calls for greater action on climate change at COP26

HY William Chan is representing the voices of Sydneysiders at the COP26 ‘Young Leaders in Climate’ meeting, hosted by the British High Commission this Thursday 4 November 2021. Photo: Supplied.


Local Sydney sustainability advocate and architect, HY William Chan has joined calls for global leaders to take greater action on climate change at COP26 in Glasgow, which is currently underway.

Chan will be attending the COP26 ‘Young Leaders in Climate’ meeting this Thursday, representing Sydney locals in a discussion between young leaders from across the globe. COP26 is set to be one of the most important global meetings in recent history and the “last chance” for humanity to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Chan hopes to focus on Australia’s role in addressing the climate emergency whilst acknowledging reducing green-house emissions can only be achieved by collaborative global action.

“For me I really want to engage with young Sydneysiders but also recognise that it’s also about global support, especially for our pacific neighbours,” Chan told City Hub.

In August, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its most dire warning yet if the world fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions rapidly.

“We have to understand it’s not just about ourselves, it’s also about how we can be supporting those who don’t have a voice or those who will really lose their livelihoods if we don’t take ambitious action.”

Based on current emission reduction targets humanity will face a 1.5C rise in global temperatures by 2030 and 2.7C by the end of century. In 2015 world leaders agreed to limit warming to 1.5C but without more drastic action this goal is increasingly untenable.

At 1.5C warming above pre-industrial levels the world will face more frequent and severe drought, fires, floods and cyclones and the rate of glacier melt and sea level rise will further increase.

Chan for change

As a teenager Chan became increasingly passionate about climate action and soon found himself on the National Council of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. Since then, Chan launched into a career as an architect focused on reducing the industries environmental impact through sustainable development and innovation.

“My industry, the built environment, accounts for around 38% of carbon emissions in Australia…that’s quite an overwhelming figure.”

“For me it’s really about a generation looking after the next generation…and also being able to have agency to actually create that future that we want to inherent.”

Chan has been underwhelmed by the federal government’s action on climate change over the last decade and their “last minute” net-zero by 2050 target that relies on technology that doesn’t yet exist. He is worried for the future but remains hopeful that COP26 will see more ambitious climate action come about.

“It’s been disappointing that we have had a minister for carbon emissions reduction for a long time now, and yet our national leaders have really scrambled at the last minute to front the world stage.”

“To be quite frank, I think net-zero by 2050 is really too late…we really need to have plans for 2030 that actually accelerate solutions and our productivity at the same time. That’s really the best chance we have in combating this great threat.”

Chan is running in the City of Sydney council election as part of Clover Moore’s team and plans to fulfil the council’s goal to reduce its emissions by 70% by 2024 if elected.

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