Our diary from the first week at COP26

We have been in Glasgow catching the real news and statements from the Summit and attending the various events in the streets.
It has been an intense week, filled with an energy and vibration like no other, from the international activists despite the neverending empty promises coming from inside the conference.
This is a chronological series of thoughts about what has happened over the last few days and it offers some hints on what we can expect from the upcoming week.

Day 1 – October 31st

Today we attended the Cop26 Coalition opening event called ‘The Era of Injustice is over’.
The Cop26 Coalition is an international alliance of NGOs, trade unions, grassroots campaigns, youth groups, and environmental networks who will bring the voice from worldwide frontline communities to Glasgow and will report the truth about the negotiations and events of COP26.
The opening event, held at The Landing Hub, and hosted by Quan Nguyen, was a ceremony focused on activists and leading voices from the Global South.

This Conference of the Parties is in fact the most exclusionary in history, with thousands blocked from making their voices heard, especially people from the most affected areas. That’s why this event saw speakers from across the Climate Justice movements, including indigenous activists, youth from Fridays For Future, and activists from different countries.

We met and interviewed Kevin Mtai, from Kenya, who is spreading a message around Europe: a message of great damage and loss his country is suffering as a consequence of climate change. We also met Lauren MacDonald, a Scottish activist of the StopCambo campaign, who recently challenged the CEO of Shell during a TEDX event publicly accusing him and his company of continuing to pollute our lands and oceans. Lauren was particularly focused on offering a positive message to whoever is involved in local and international ecological campaigns.

Day 2 – November 1st

Many events filled the agenda today in Glasgow, highlighted by the mainstream media as usual: the opening event with the welcome ceremony from the United Kingdom, the arrival of the world “leaders”, the salute of the Queen… But at the end of the day, we are left, once again, with empty words from governments: “We will… We want… We promise…”

Not a single real action to stop financing fossil fuels, to finance clean energy in the developing countries, to stop intensive farming, to stop exploiting workers. Nothing.

Walking around Glasgow volunteering for COP26 Coalition, with indigenous people, scientists who lost their voice, young activists who are ready to lose their freedom, you can really see where governments put all of their effort: in using a huge amount of police force in order to stop People from taking to the streets, encouraging other people that another, better world is possible.
We ask for change and they answer with repression.
We ask for Justice and they answer with Profit.
We ask for inclusion and they answer with the most exclusionary COP ever.
We are too different from them. And too close too.
We honestly feel that the clash is unavoidable.
And it will be the last price to pay…
The video that fortunately hides our faces is by Sabrina Fernandes.

Day 3 – November 2nd

The news of the day is the commitment to stopping deforestation by 2030 financing it with 19.2 billion dollars, a deal that has been signed by the countries that are home to 85% of the forests combined, worldwide.
Want to call their bluff? Let’s see whether this is just another greenwashing statement, that in reality comes nowhere near to RealZero yet with the opportunity to continue the business-as-usual. It’s like they are saying: “let’s cut fewer trees so we can increase our emissions”.

Another element that creates immediate doubt is the fact that Putin agreed this deal, however making the point that Russia is home to 20% of the world’s forests and that his goal is to cut the emissions within 2060, when of course, he wouldn’t be able to be judged for his work because he will be long gone.

The disgusting news of the day is the promise from Jeff Bezos of Amazon: a promise of $2 billion to help restore natural habitats and transform food systems. No human being on Earth should be able to give a pittance to the rest of humanity, above all if that person has an overall worth of almost 200 billion dollars, whilst not respecting worker’s rights, crushing small businesses, and taking vacations into space!

We will not buy into these empty promises, we’ll be on our guard for ourselves and our planet.

Day 4 – November 3rd

We feel the distance from the people in charge is increasing day by day.
Today we saw a lot of protests, marches and rallies going on throughout Glasgow including an alliance of the indigenous groups from Latin America, the Minga Indigena, who marched to bring their claims to Cop26! People from Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil, just to name a few, are happy to be here in Scotland and to finally share their positive and hopeful message: “Ancestral peoples will save the World”.

Also we saw an amazing display by Extinction Rebellion who were able to hit the nail on the head by making their protest outside JP Morgan, the American multinational investment bank and financial services holding company who are making money by sleeping with fossil fuel companies.

Another demonstration was scheduled to bring attention to the Global South debt crisis, represented by a Loch Ness Debt Monster, an inflatable cartoon created by the Jubilee Debt Campaign; however the demonstration was over before it started when the police decided to kidnap this beautiful creature in order to show their devotion to the government who pay their salaries.

Finally today, inside the protected walls, governments discussed their climate finance agreements and they came up with this mythical promise of $100 billion, that is practically crumbs from the rich men’s table.
This funding target, anyway, was meant to be met in 2020 and now it is expected in 2023, three years late.
Also, members of the Least Developed Countries Group told COP26 today that the access to funding is a huge issue. Made up of 46 nations with 1 billion people, the Least Developed Countries are responsible for less than 1% of the world’s emissions and that means they suffer disproportionally from the effects of climate change. If they have a climate disaster and they apply for a loan, it takes four or five years to really get the money. So they end up borrowing and most of the Least Developed Countries are now getting caught in debt traps.

Looking into the eyes of these people coming from all over the world to represent the struggles in their communities, we don’t feel COP26 will have a satisfactory or constructive conclusion.

Sian, a doctor from MedAct, hands out “Prescriptions for the Planet” and explains why climate change is bad for our health.
Credits: Marie-Claire Thomas – COP26 Coalition

Day 5 -November 4th

Today the negotiations were focused on a pledge to phase out coal: it was supported by many countries but was shunned by big users of the dirtiest of the fuels that cause global warming. Some of the biggest chimneys of the world didn’t sign the agreement including the n°1 polluter China, also Australia, India and guess who else? USA!
The richest nations agreed to quit coal power within the years of 2030-2039. And the poorest nations by the end of the 2040s. The reasons why some of the smaller countries didn’t agree is because they don’t have the promised funding to retire coal earlier and to build the new capacity of renewable energy.

Returning to the streets of Glasgow, we had demonstrations by numerous groups such as the XR Rebels who claimed again their positions infront of JP Morgan, as being the “most polluting bank” in the world, as well Futuros Indigenas who presented ‘Toxic Tour’, exposing those responsible for the climate crisis.

Some other movements and communities held actions to call on states, regions and city councils to stop investing people’s pension in fossil fuels. Speaking with some of them, you can easily feel not only the evil, but also the nonsense of capitalism: we work hard to ensure that institutions and private companies take away part of that money for our retirement and they invest it in polluting activities that will make our retirement more painful and shorter.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings. The youth of Fridays for Future have called on the adults to join them and to march together under the same, unequivocal banner: #UprootTheSystem.
It will be a big day!

XR rebels @JP Morgan; Credit: MidiaNinja

Day 6 -November 5th

As we are continuing to say, there is a big difference between the kinds of action people want and the action that comes from the governments. Events within the golden walls lacked luster today. An analysis from the United Nations Climate Change consultant showed that global carbon emissions are on track to rise by 13.7% by 2030.

The same report says that for the 74 nations that provided information on long term mitigation visions for up to and beyond 2050, the total emissions are estimated to be 70/80% lower in 2050 than in 2019! We can’t find any sense in this. As we anticipated, the big promises are kept for the longest terms while in the short terms, they have already been turned into lies.

Despite the failings of their political elders, the youth of the world made their voices heard with fiery enthusiasm during today’s explosive protest. Children from as young as 5 marched in collaboration, proudly waving home-made signs and chanting messages of hope for their future: today was yet another stark reminder that even our youngest generations hold more maturity than those who hold power!

We witnessed an unprecedented unity of movements and organisations: School kids marched beside their parents and grandparents, environmentalists marched with workers and everyone felt they were finally part of a bigger picture. Climate deniers had their time in these past years to tell the lie of the climate crisis as an issue belonging to the middle class, a worry that only privileged people could afford to have. Since the beginning, and now more evident, whoever is on the frontline understands the scale of this emergency and a proof of that, is that all of us are arriving to the same solution…
To resolve the Climate Emergency capitalism has to go.

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