This week, world leaders met in Glasgow for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26. Proceedings have largely been characterised by inaction, hypocrisy and empty words. But we have also seen Indigenous, grassroots and youth climate justice activists raising their voices demanding action on the climate crisis.
In spite of the excessive policing of climate justice protests in the Scottish city, people in towns and cities across the world are gearing up to take part in a global day of action for climate justice this weekend.
COP26 – a ludicrous affair
Since 31 October, world leaders have gathered in Glasgow for the two-week climate summit. The summit’s aim is “to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change”. But proceedings have been overshadowed by hypocrisy.
Indeed, we have seen delegates predominantly dining on meat, fish and dairy. Highlighting the ludicrousness of the climate summit’s meat and fish-heavy menu, co-founder of rewilding campaign Wild Card Joel Scott-Halkes tweeted:
Meat and fish on the menu at #COP26 ?!
This is the equivalent of serving cigarettes at a lung cancer conference.
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— Joel Scott-Halkes (@Joelscotthalkes) November 3, 2021
Having lectured world leaders on the need for action to save the planet, UK prime minister Boris Johnson decided to fly home in a private jet after just two days at the two week conference. News outlet Politics JOE summarised:
Boris Johnson: Our children will 'judge us with bitterness' if we fail to tackle climate change
Also Boris Johnson: Train takes too long, private jet it ishttps://t.co/Du5ZLn2oa9
— PoliticsJOE (@PoliticsJOE_UK) November 2, 2021
And Amazon founder Jeff Bezos took to the stage to muse about recognising Earth’s “fragility” during his trip to space. In response, climate justice activist Sam Knights said:
Jeff Bezos just spoke at COP26. He lectured people whose countries are sinking and whose citizens are dying on the "fragility of the natural world"…. yeah, I think they know mate.
— Sam Knights (@samjknights) November 2, 2021
Activists take to the streets
Groups have already staged a number of protests ahead of the global day of action for climate justice, which is taking place on Saturday 6 November. In the face of the farcical COP26 conference, grassroots activists from around the world have taken to Glasgow’s streets to demand urgent action on the climate crisis.
Although climate crisis discourses continue to sideline the instrumental work of Indigenous environmental and land rights defenders, Futuros Indígenas activists from Guatemala and Mexico attended the conference demanding to be heard:
"The future can't be negotiated, the future must be defended!" Andrea Ixchíu, a K'iche woman from Totonicapán, is in Glasgow with a Guatemalan and Mexican delegation of indigenous peoples. They planted a message: "Join the indigenous resistance!"
📹 @midianinja – #CopCollab26 pic.twitter.com/xJcYJlz87v
— Mídia NINJA (@MidiaNINJA) November 3, 2021
Meanwhile, campaigners calling on the UK government to stop the Cambo oil field staged a mock ceremony:
BREAKING: Half a century after first turning ON the tap to North Sea oil, Her Majesty the Queen returns today to turn it OFF in a mock ceremony organised by @StopCambo activists in Glasgow.
— StopCambo (@StopCambo) November 3, 2021
With @fffitalia, we’re disrupting an event by Italian oil giant Eni.
We’re calling out their climate lies and reading a statement from @ja4change from Mozambique
— Glasgow Calls Out Polluters (GCOP) (@Ggow_COP) November 2, 2021
Excessive policing in Glasgow
Ahead of the COP26 summit, Police Scotland pledged to be “friendly, fair and accommodating” to protesters. But the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) raised concerns about excessive and disproportionate policing in Glasgow. It shared:
This campaigner was stopped earlier today because police officers said he was "talking to people and walking too fast" pic.twitter.com/yLM3SMS8XG
— Netpol (@netpol) November 3, 2021
One Twitter user shared:
The police followed my friends, who are peaceful protestors, around Glasgow at #COP26 yesterday. Today they were followed around Glasgow, onto a train to Edinburgh, and are currently being followed around Edinburgh. This doesn’t sound like proportionate policing to me @netpol
— Ams (@amsillustrator) November 2, 2021
Meanwhile, police seized and impounded the Jubilee Debt Campaign’s inflatable Lock Ness monster calling on western governments to clear the global South debt:
Our @dropthedebt Loch Ness debt monster is being impounded by the police at #cop26 We wanted to show that the global South debt crisis cannot be ignored if we are to achieve climate justice. pic.twitter.com/h0y49UpYdj
— Heidi Chow (@hidschow) November 3, 2021
Elsewhere, officers kettled Extinction Rebellion marchers headed towards the summit:
The Police are refusing exit of the block they created, you can’t leave to the toilet or for medication. 👎
But, you can get out if your the media! 🤦♂️ pic.twitter.com/BJ7xI7N9Fg
— Thomas O. Cornwallis (@UrbanistTOC) November 3, 2021
Netpol intends to publish a report on the policing of COP26. In preparation for this, the group is rigorously documenting campaigners’ experiences of oppressive policing during protests in Glasgow. Anyone looking to share their experiences of oppressive policing at COP26 can email their evidence and testimonies to [email protected].
Global day of action
As COP26 continues, people are gearing up to take part in a global day of action for climate justice this weekend. On Saturday 6 November, campaigners in towns and cities across the world will take to the streets to demand climate justice. The COP26 Coalition has produced an interactive map of actions taking place in towns and cities across the globe. Coalition member Surfers Against Sewage has put together a helpful resource pack for protest attendees.
Staying safe on the streets
If you do take to the streets this weekend, be sure to follow Netpol member Green & Black Cross’ advice for people attending protests. Their key messages are:
- NO COMMENT: You don’t need to answer police questions. Not speaking to officers keeps you and other protesters safe.
- NO PERSONAL DETAILS:You don’t generally have to give your name or address to the police (unless you’re driving a vehicle). However, if police are fining you under a fixed penalty notice (FPN), warning you under an anti-social behaviour power or quoting an airport bylaw, you may want to give your name or address to avoid arrest.
- WHAT POWER?: The police rely on you not knowing the law. Ask them “under what power” they are acting and why. Make a note of their response as soon as possible.
- NO DUTY SOLICITOR: Duty solicitors often give bad advice to protesters. Instead, choose a lawyer from Netpol’s list of trusted protest solicitors.
- NO CAUTION: If police arrest you, don’t accept a caution. It counts as an admission of guilt, and will go on your criminal record. Never accept a caution without taking advice from an experienced protest lawyer.
However you choose to participate, taking part in the upcoming day of action is a powerful way we can all support urgent calls for global climate justice, and demand action from world leaders.
Featured image via Marcus Spiske/Unsplash
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