A Day at COP26

Read about Zoe’s spontaneous trip to visit COP26; the good, the bad, and the interesting.

The growing climate crisis is something that I think most people would say they are concerned about. Being passionate about all things green, I was slightly sad when, considering it is pretty much on our doorstep, I thought that I would not be able to go to COP. However, after some rescheduling, I found myself with my friend, on a bus to Glasgow on Wednesday the 10th. It was a strange experience, with neither one of us having ever been to Glasgow, I was not quite sure what to expect.  After a rather long journey, we could see a variety of COP banners. We made our way for an essential coffee before heading to St George Tron, where Tearfund was based. Inside this church was a prayer vigil for COP as well as a really cool modern café, something I had never seen inside a church before. We looked around the vigil which included a lot of tasks that anyone, despite their faith, could try such as picking a piece of paper with an aim to help one better their eco-footprint, i.e., meatless Mondays.

Source: Zoe Hemming-Clark

Next, we headed to JP Morgan. On arrival, we were offered a free lunch which consisted of hemp pasta, with a veggie bolognese and a beetroot salad. At this point, any negatives I had heard about Extinction Rebellion (XR) had gone out of the window. I started to inquire more, asking a girl in an orange vis saying “legal observer” what she was doing.  She explained that she was watching the police and then proceeded to give me a card about being arrested. I made a light joke saying I doubt I will be arrested, but she quite seriously replied “you never know.” At this point, we were quite concerned as to what could potentially happen. We then had a look at some of the eco artwork they had on display, some of which were incredible and can be found on XRs website. 

On our way out, we started talking to the police about cheese sandwiches after they’d asked whether the food was nice. A couple of minutes into the interaction, the legal observer girl told us she had to go and advised us to stop talking to them. Rather innocently stating we were talking about cheese sandwiches, another guy informed us “that’s how they get to you.” You could really feel the tension. On the one hand, climate change is a very important cause, and some of the stuff you hear about police is far from stellar. On the other hand, this woman was simply talking about a cheese sandwich, and it seemed dehumanising to completely ignore her. It felt like being on the fence and neither side was a win. As we finally did start to leave, the guy who gave us the food struck up a casual conversation with us. So I took the opportunity to find out more… or at least attempted to. As I casually asked about his involvement he said it seemed like “a very cop-esque question”. I did however get an answer; he had been involved for two years, mainly handling the food as he wants to go to America on a visa. He also told us how to get involved with local groups and how the structure of XR worked. It was quite fascinating. 

Source: Zoe Hemming-Clark

Eventually, we made it to the green zone; it was interesting but nothing too special. It felt like a science museum with some fun interactive activities, but time, money, and resources could’ve been spent better as the activities didn’t seem to have much relevance to climate change.

We also attended a talk on climate change through the lens of women in transport. The talk was engaging with global panel members discussing how they do things in their cities and talking about how they are helping women and children move about the city. The talk was recorded and can be found on the COP website. It is certainly worth it for some random woman in the Q+A announcing herself as running for US president!

Overall, I am glad I went to COP. It was a shame to miss some of the bigger stuff in week one or on the weekend, but on the plus side, it was probably a lot easier to move about the city and get into things because it was quieter than at the weekend. Climate change is definitely something that is alarming, considering it will have the biggest impact on our generation, and it is something we need to continue to push for change on.

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20 thoughts on “A Day at COP26

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