When the Trinity Young Greens announced their plans to travel to Glasgow for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, I signed up honestly not knowing what I was getting myself in for. The events of the weekend led to such an evocative and eye-opening experience, and I can wholeheartedly say that the future of our climate is not just the worry of a concerned few, but a powerful many.
We met at 7am on Friday 5 November to begin our journey, taking the most eco-friendly method of transportation we could. It started with a bus to Belfast (which I completely passed out for the duration of due to severe lack of sleep), followed by a ferry to Cairnryan, and finally another bus to Edinburgh, the location of the climate conference. In total, the journey took us around 11 hours.
“The protest seemed to be made up of a rather diverse crowd, with members from Green parties worldwide, Marxist unions and vegan activists.”
On Saturday morning, we assembled in Glasgow city centre to protest world leaders’ inaction on climate change. The Glaswegian rain was something I simply could not prepare myself for – and it was textbook pathetic fallacy in terms of the climate crisis. Along with 100,000 other protestors, it was a day full of some good-old, nonviolent civil disobedience. The protest seemed to be made up of a rather diverse crowd, with members from Green parties worldwide, Marxist unions and vegan activists.
We protestors had many chants such as “System Change, not Climate Change” and “Keep 1.5 alive” (referring to not letting global temperature rise any more than it already has at 1.5°C) which were bellowed through the city. A member of Trinity Young Greens, Martha Cosgrove, even managed to willfully get hold of a megaphone and lead us all in chants.
Standing there in the rain, we were surrounded by thousands of other people who shared the same love for our earth and worry for its well-being; they understood the impact climate destruction is having on the planet, and they knew direct action must be taken now. This was a very powerful moment for me. There were times where I felt emotional walking with the crowd, and it felt like we were a united front against the nature of capitalism that is arguably destroying our planet.
“Greta Thunberg summed up all of our thoughts when she referred to these actions by world leaders as ‘Blah, blah, blah.'”
Inside the COP venue, it was clear to me that certain world leaders were predominantly there to protect corporate interests rather than the implementation of global climate policies. Pledges were made in the first week to end deforestation, coal usage and cuts to methane emissions. However, protestors were not happy with this – it’s too little and too late. Greta Thunberg summed up all of our thoughts when she referred to these actions by world leaders as “Blah, blah, blah.” She also labelled the conference as a “two-week long celebration of business as usual.”
It is clear that COP26 has failed in many ways – with controversy surrounding it from all sides, including Green Party leader Eamon Ryan testing positive then negative for Covid-19 (if only we could all have free tests on demand), reports of U.S President Joe Biden audibly breaking wind in front of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and a reported 400 private jets arriving in Glasgow in lieu of scheduled flights, despite event planners claiming the conference would be carbon neutral.
Despite what appeared to me as the utterly disastrous nature of COP26, what was truly important was the thousands that protested outside. It is up to us, the future generations, to lobby and protest for greener policies and laws to be implemented. We need to stop the burning and funding of fossil fuels abroad, we need annual emission cuts and we need to stop funding corporate enterprises that contribute to the destruction of our planet. The time for climate action is now.
Even with the unpredictability of Glaswegian weather, I had an incredible experience on the trip.