'We're standing on an edge': Sudbury mother, daughter attend COP26 climate change conference

A conference seen as the last best chance to save the planet is underway in Glasgow, and a mother and daughter from Sudbury are among those looking for solutions to climate change.

This is the fourth COP meeting for Orlando, while it's the first for Mathur, now a well-known activist

Cathy Orlando, left, and her daughter Sophia Mathur are both climate activists from Sudbury who are attending the COP26 conference in Glasgow. (Erik White/CBC )

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The much anticipated COP26 conference on climate change is underway in Glasgow, and among those working to find a solution to global warming is a 14-year-old from Sudbury.

Sophia Mathur has made national headlines by organizing Fridays for Future protests and has quickly become a well-known climate activist.

"You really don't know what they're going to say, you really don't know what the outcome is going to be of this. You don't want it to be just words. I really hope that something comes out of this and we go on track to a livable future," said the Grade 9 student at Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School in the Ontario city.

"Personally, I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to have to do activism anymore. It's not my job. It's politicians' and it's adults' jobs."

One of the adults at the conference is Sophia's mother, Cathy Orlando.

The program manager with Citizens Climate International, this is the fourth time Orlando has attended a COP meeting. 

The Conference of Parties (COP), as it's known, meets every year and is the global decision-making body set up in the early 1990s to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and subsequent climate agreements.

"Never did I imagine I would be attending a Conference of the Parties with my daughter.

"I want her to share what she needs to share. She's got something to say for sure. I don't know what it is," Orlando said with a laugh. 

Glasgow's historic downtown steeple now warns of a climate emergency heading into COP26. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)

Many are saying this conference could be the last chance to turn things around before the world becomes a very different place, and Orlando said she feels that urgency going into the talks. 

"I mean, we're standing on an edge. This is a last chance COP. But nothing is black and white. And things will change. They have to. We can't do this to the atmosphere," she says. 

"There's going to be disappointments and there's going to be happy moments."

Sophia said she's excited to hear what the politicians have to say and put pressure on those shying away from taking real action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

She said it's important for world leaders to hear from young people at COP26 which can have "more impact than another adult telling them that they want climate action."


Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to


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