On Saturday 6th November, the city centre of Glasgow played host to one of the biggest ever protests seen in the city’s history. As politicians, lobbyists, and delegates met within the confines of SEC centre on the riverside, on the street, activists from all walks of life descended upon the city to send a clear message to COP26: climate justice = social justice.
It was the message that climate change isn’t a far away problem for future generations, climate change is a problem for us, and it’s happening before our eyes.
There was a sense of solidarity and togetherness at the protest, with many different groups coming together to recognize and be vocal about the need for those in power to seriously address the existential threat of global warming. From striking council workers to indigenous campaign groups to socialist activists, the protest brought together people from all walks of life. No longer a fringe concern left for ‘tree-huggers’ or ‘eco-warriors’, the climate crisis is a truly global problem that the vast majority recognize needs to be addressed.
Back in August of this year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) composed of 234 scientists concluded that the only hope of avoiding global warming of above 1.5 °C or 2 °C is making radical cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. It was by far the starkest warning given to humanity yet about the inevitable and irreversible effects of climate change. The Student asked some of those attending the rally about this report and about how they reacted to its publication.
Marie, a Belgian activist from the International Socialist Alternative (ISA) said:
“It terrified me, but also made me more determined. The report simply reaffirmed that capitalism and its destructive capabilities got us into this mess, and it certainly won’t get us out of it.”
This sentiment was reiterated by Chris from the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) when he said that “what we need and have always needed is a transition to a zero-carbon socialist global economy.” According to him and his organisation, “this is the only way of reversing the damage that has already been caused by capitalism.”
One thing that was made clear from the people The Student spoke to and the message from all the campaign groups was how important this protest was. The some one hundred thousand people that descended upon Glasgow on Saturday came together to send a clear message to those gathering at COP26 that they are here and they are not going away. A message that climate change needs a radical approach. An approach that recognises that the effects of climate change will be unequal and disproportionate.
The togetherness, the community spirit, and diversity on display on Saturday is something rarely seen in Glasgow before at this scale. The story of COP26 is not only about what is happening in the SEC centre, but also about what is happening on the streets.
Image courtesy of Eliška Suchochlebová