A Long Weekend at COP 26

A Long Weekend at COP 26

 18 Nov 2021

COP 26 concluded this past weekend with an assortment of promises and agreements committed to by our politicians and policymakers over the two-week international summit in Glasgow. But, according to the IPCC report published over the summer, the world is on track to hit 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by the middle of this century (2040). As a result, COP 26 was seen by many as the last chance saloon to avert cataclysmic Global Climate Change. So, with the warnings of the IPCC report and the growing calls for global action wringing in my head, I thought that while the summit was in town, I would attend a long weekend of protests and talks to learn more about Climate Change.
At the marches on the 5th and 6th of November 2021 in Glasgow, we saw young climate leaders, like Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate, share their perspectives with older activists, crossing generational divides and bringing fresh urgency to the climate challenge.
The Friday youth march was lively and good-natured, with the weather being unseasonably warm and dry. Protestors from all walks of life and age (plenty of poignant placards made by school-aged children) came together to demand climate justice for all. After arriving a little late at Kelvingrove, I managed to squeeze my way to the front, where young Indigenous climate activists from the Global South were leading the march. The voices of Indigenous people worldwide have been side-lined at this summit, so it was heartening to see the “Fridays for Future Scotland” organisers foregrounding these perspectives.
During the speeches in George Square, the crowd heard from a broad and diverse range of young voices from the global North and South. It was exciting watching young activists eloquently argue for the saving planet, our home. However, it was sometimes difficult to hear from speakers, particularly from the Global South, on Climate Change’s impact on their communities. All bought stories of homes ravaged by recent record-breaking floods and fires directly attributed to Climate Change. It was even more challenging to hear about the continued destruction of their ancestral ecosystems to facilitate the infinite growth demanded by government and business. Nevertheless, every speaker’s message was clear: this level of continuing development was unsustainable on a finite planet.
On Saturday, the weather was typically Glaswegian: drizzly, windy, and cold, but still up to 100,000 people marched from Kelvingrove to Glasgow Green to demand international action on Climate Change. I caught up with the end of the march at the Green and watched thousands of people file through the arch and into the park. While wet, the atmosphere was urgent and exhilarating, with calls for an end to global greenhouse emissions echoing through the city centre of Glasgow.
The following day, I attended the New York Times Climate Hub at SWG3 with a friend. Inside, the organisers had planted an actual forest (pictured), and we sat in amongst the trees taking in the talks from business leaders, policymakers, scientists, financiers tackling Climate Change.
There was a hands-on workshop about Ocean-Based Solutions for the climate crisis. Here at Red, we’re acutely aware of the ocean’s importance to our business and clients. With nearly three-quarters of the globe covered in the sea, this vital element of the Earth’s ecosystem is often seen as a resource to be plundered rather than a source of nature-based solutions such as absorbing carbon and heat, to being a source of renewable energy. This workshop brought together leaders, students, and community members to discuss how individuals could contribute to unlocking the power of our oceans. With the subject of climate change being such a complex, serious, and multifaceted issue, it was hard to imagine how we could come together to learn, debate, and discover equity-oriented solutions. Yet, we managed it. 
With the legacy of COP 26 in the headlines and questions raised about whether enough was achieved, I learned from all those who spoke that we could not continue to be complacent. Instead, we must turn talk into action, whether on a personal or business level.

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