Our diary from the second week at COP26

Day 7 – November 6th

What a day!
We joined the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice, the biggest and most inclusionary environmental protest ever.
Despite the problems many people had with visas and pandemic policies, persons from every corner of the world were able to attend representing different frontline communities. But what we found amazing was the participation of so many movements and organizations galvanised by the presence of the colourful and musical block of Extinction Rebellion.

Many families, a sense of solidarity and powerful messages on the placards proudly shown by every other participant, happy to be there shoulder to shoulder with strangers who often didn’t even speak the same language but the one of the upcoming revolution. The rain that fell throughout the whole day didn’t dampen either our spirits or our steps or voices.

The rally that closed the day in Glasgow Green, packed with more than 150.000 people, was also intense thanks to the organization of the COP26 Coalition who voiced the indigenous communities that from Asia to South America, are suffering from a crisis they didn’t contribute to creating for the sake of wealth they didn’t even enjoy…

And this rise of our authentic ancestral needs embraces every struggle. For an unprecedented crisis, we have to prepare and contribute to an unprecedented solution.

Day 8 – November 7th

We woke up this morning with a net-zero will of chasing the statements and pledges from old, white men who pretend to lead with watered-down promises of slow progress or small steps forward.

Compromises didn’t work for 25 COPS, and they won’t work for the 26th! So today we focus on our counter climate conference that kicked off with the Peoples Summit for Climate Justice created by the COP26 Coalition to enhance the various and passionate voices coming from indigenous and frontline communities, NGOs, trade unions, and environmentalist movements. It opened up with a People’s Tribunal in which activists charged the United Nations with failure to act properly and on time.

The most important thing that has hit us is the fact that, despite coming from different countries and backgrounds, we all want to arrive at the same solution for the climate crisis through a conscious process that includes the ending of colonialism. And colonialism is not simply the imperialism that we were all taught in school, it is the evil mechanism that forces every.single.person to obey the market and not to the human-based needs, as Colette Pichon Battle explains in this video.

We also interviewed some mothers of the earth in one of the talks of the day… They had heart-warming stories to tell about their struggles and triumphs about the role of parents in this worldwide environmental crisis. We will share some of these stories shortly, but in the meantime, we want to debunk another lie: that the fight for the climate is relegated only to the younger generations. It is not. Many parents and adults feel it is their shared duty to act in support and on behalf of the youth.

Don’t forget: the sea is rising and so are we!

Day 9 – November 8th

Today’s theme inside the UN Climate Conference was Loss & Damage; one of the biggest, unresolved issues thus far. Poorer countries, the ones who have contributed the least to this crisis, pushed to get the necessary money (they deserve), but there was no agreement on who should pay for the damages caused to them and for their loss of biodiversity.

As a response to this, in the counter summit of the COP26 Coalition, the theme today became “Accountability”. We have heard from a number of different activists, panelists, and even politicians themselves speaking the word “accountability”. Because, despite starting with good intentions, positive views and powerful actions, if we don’t have accountability of politicians then we cannot move anywhere. We have been lacking this from all the people currently ‘in power’ but it is something we must demand going forward.

We have also to re-build these traditions of helping each other’s communities. It’s not about building a Climate movement but a Justice movement and feeling the solidarity between all the diverse causes.

It’s fundamental now to realise that the ‘loss and damage’ topic is not only related to technical aspects of the climate: they are the consequences of the overall problem. The exploitation of the soil, of the Earth, is a direct effect of the exploitation of human beings. The loss of forests, wildlife, marine life, is an aftermath of the loss of respect for indigenous cultures.

During the events today, we were also reminded of the importance of sacrifice as a requirement as well as a value of these social and environmental struggles. We must start helping each other within these movements, providing everybody with the same opportunities to participate and contribute. For example, giving opportunities to mothers with children whilst offering different spaces and activities to allow them to contribute in different ways, or considering that some people may not be able to attend a march, or may not feel confident in this. Equally, someone may not be technologically educated to undertake a campaign on social media. It is up to us to create an inclusive world, standing as examples with our movements and allowing all voices to participate.

We have got to have hard conversations, on the ground.
We have work to do on the inside and the outside.
Come together, heal ourselves, reveal ourselves.
That’s when we will win!

Day 10 – November 9th

Today has been revealing, in a lot of ways. From vigils to blockades, to tears and dancing, to the embarrassing negotiations.

Extinction Rebellion once again occupied the roads outside JP Morgan, this time with full force, implementing a 24hour vigil from 4pm on 9th. We were even there to report the XR activists fighting for justice for the Amazon, in a powerful move that blocked the road outside Santander Bank, with paint across the walls of the building reminding us of the ‘power’ these banks hold with their blood money.

An Indigenous Peoples protest was also held outside the Blue Zone this morning featuring Little Amal, a 3.5m tall puppet that walked all the way from the border of Syria to Glasgow. Amal was designed to represent all the refugee children fleeing war and climate crises in all countries worldwide. She spread the message:

“I don’t want to drink mining like it’s water, and I don’t want to eat mining like it’s food. Because water flows through me, and my flesh is the Earth.”

Young activists came out to meet her outside the Blue Zone and she listened to their messages for the delegates of COP.

Inside the walls, environmental groups brought attention to the fact that the document containing potential final negotiated agreements that will be discussed over the weekend makes no reference to the scaling back of fossil fuel production. Despite COP26 President Sharma declared that the draft paper presents “all of the key issues raised with us so far”.

This new document will enable negotiators and delegates at the conference to communicate with their national leaders remotely ahead of Friday when the final document release is expected. However given that most COPs in the past have run over schedule, and considering that the to-do list for COP26 is extremely long, we can just see what they reveal to us.

One thing is for certain: it doesn’t end here!

Day 11 – November 10th

Rumors about the incoming agreement not including immediate cuts to fossil fuel emissions encouraged protests to escalate today, both within the blue zone of the COP26 conference and in the streets.

The draft of the summits final statement is something far from our expectations: it “urges” countries to “revisit and strengthen” their 2030 climate plans by the end of 2022 to meet the target of holding global warming to 1.5°C. At the moment if we combine all the deals and promises the limit is only 2.4°C.

This morning we reported on an XR demonstration on St Vincent Street against Drax, the UKs single biggest emitter of carbon emissions. Since 2015 Drax has been burning more wood than the UK produces every year. Its a green washing scheme and it’s time for us to stop giving them our government subsides #AxeDrax

Later we attended a panel discussion about how we can win a global green new deal. The panel members consisted of Kate Aranoff – author of ‘Over Heated’ How Capitalism Broke the Planet, Richard Kozrul Wright – Director of the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development, Vijay Prashad – Tri-continental Institute India. It came out that there is a need to build the confidence of people, because once this is achieved people will be more willing to sacrifice their time to organise and join movements, and that’s how we build power in strength and numbers. Finally, when we have power, we then have the chance to create a new system.

Another aspect that has been highlighted and also commonly shared among the panelists is that the Green New Deal desired by the Global North is just another, different form of imperialism to bring new, green technologies only to the people who can afford them and made on the exploitation of people who cannot and will not be able to afford them. On the contrary, what we need is green technology that serves vulnerable people and developing countries. Through innovation, we must bring clean energy provided through public service. As well as defend the public ownership of the national health system, we need to fight for public energy. And we need to do this globally, demanding healthcare, education, transport, and energy managed by the public sector.

We finished our long day in a march from JP Morgan to the protected walls of the COP26 venue with the words from the panel discussion still in our ears: that the green deal conversations should be a basis for rupture, and revolution.

If we truly want to #UprootTheSystem we must build on our class consciousness, and remember that our current “system” has a name and it is Capitalism!

Day 12 – November 11th

No good news from the bunker of liars just some greenwashing statements from USA & China who decided to collaborate to tackle climate change. Basically together they will double their effort, which means 0 X 2 = 0.

The empty news of the day is the creation of the so-called Boga (Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance) which, thanks to the effort of Denmark And Costa Rica, received participation from 8 core members including Wales (who don’t have much coal and gas), 3 associate members including California and listen here, a “friend member”: Italy (who basically don’t want to step out of fossil fuels but love to tell bulls**t to their citizens).

Anyway, you can’t have much more than these empty promises in a conference dominated by old white capitalist men. We’ll leave you with a piece of data…Pacific Islands negotiators are outnumbered by fossil fuel businessmen at COP26 at a ratio of 12 : 1.

A big march for the Justice of Migrants took place this morning through the streets of Glasgow and with big participation from different people from different parts of the world. Apart from that we felt in calm waters throughout the rest of the day: like the classic moments before a storm hits.

Join us at the gates of COP tomorrow and see for yourselves…

Day 13 – November 12th

The COP26 summit here showed us that every government walks alone, not caring for their own citizens nor the suffering countries.

The sorrow for the deal that doesn’t put an end to fossil fuels and doesn’t help developing countries with the necessary money, must give space to our plans of a better world that is possible through our newly discovered People Power.

They lock themselves in private rooms to make us feel weak and now they’ve realised this empowered us more than ever. For the first time in history workers and farmers, scientists and students, people from the Global South and Global North came together for Collective Justice. Strolling along the streets of Glasgow, we leave you with this poem…

Last day at COP26.
Last day of promises they won’t fix.
Last day to let it be,
and the first one I feel free
from relying just on hope,
washing worries like a soap.
Last time their madness
will let us feel sadness.
Look at what we taught them,
look at our smiles, damn.
Look at our eyes on humanity,
leave them with their insanity.
There’s much to build in cooperation,
taking back the idea of one nation.
And many lands to save,
more than to them we gave.
There’s rebellion to be brought,
in every factory, on every road,
and no matter that sacrifice,
if we can stop to roll the dice
to decide who’s gonna die

and who’s gonna say goodbye.
In Glasgow this last night
we smell like a teen fight.
It’s gonna come, another day
and the Coalition is here to stay.

Cover image: a frame of a video from Agisilaos Koulouris, Greek photojournalist and educator for refugees, taken outside the COP26 Blue zone entrance during a manifestation uniting Extinction Rebellion and Indigenous Peoples Articulation of Brazil on Tuesday 9 November 2021.

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