Credit: Lucy Dunn

‘The era of injustice is over’: COP26 Coalition held their opening ceremony on Sunday

By Luke Chafer and Ollie Rudden

Many people from across the movement delivered speeches, criticising governments for their poor action towards helping those worst affected from the climate crisis, including former UofG student Lauren MacDonald.

The COP26 Coalition held their opening ceremony at The Landing Hub in Glasgow on Sunday 31 October. They welcoming speakers from across the movement, including indigenous activists, youth from Fridays For Future, activists from the UK climate movement, and excluded voices from the Global South. The speakers included Mary Church from Friends of the Earth Scotland, and Lauren MacDonald, a former UofG student from Stop Cambo, all vowing to “end the era of climate injustice”. 

Prior to the first speaker, Àdhamh Ó Broin led a traditional gaelic ritual to welcome the elders and ingenious people to the city. Finishing on a similar gaelic performance, he expressed his concern that Scotland is “chained to a runaway train”. 

All the speakers spoke on how the climate crisis is an “inter-linked crisis” that adversely affects the Global South and condemned the fact that “COP26 is the most exclusionary in history, with thousands blocked from making their voices heard”.

The first speaker was Mary Church from Friends of the Earth Scotland. She first spoke about the bad handling of the UK government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and mentioned how people from “red list” countries have found great difficulty in taking part in COP26 festivities.

She also spoke about how the climate crisis has similar roots to that of hunger and sexism among others and hoped COP26 will “create a space for hope”. 

More notably, she described how Scotland has to take its share of the crisis; it has been “part of the Union for over 300 years”, being a big polluter within those years. She said the bar has been set “so frighteningly low” in regards to setting targets and that COP26 gives people the opportunity to push the Scottish government further, and not let them off the hook.

Next was Asad Rehman, from War on Want and COP26 Coalition. He spoke of the “callous disregard of the UK government to the Global South” and the “noose of neoliberalism” holding back progress on the climate crisis. He also mentioned Britain’s past with imperialism and slavery and that “the exploitation of people and resources that is still part of our economic and political system”. 

Rehman also spoke critically of new “risky technologies” that suck out carbon from the earth’s atmosphere, as well as calling out governments like the UK for their subsidies towards fossil fuel companies such as BP and Shell who he claims don’t pay UK taxes.

More notably, Rehman called out governments worldwide for breaking their promise of $100bn for developing countries and only giving an estimated $20bn. While world leaders will “talk tough on the climate in Glasgow”, he accused “rich countries” of refusing to accept liability for the damage they have done to developing countries and “only want to have a conversation if they don’t have to pay damages to the Global South”.

Continuing on, he discussed the impact of grassroots organisations and activists at ground-level, saying: “We have moved the dial from climate injustice to climate justice and that is our collective effort.”

Former University of Glasgow student Lauren MacDonald, from Stop Cambo, also delivered a speech urging people to “chip away at local issues to drive a bigger change”. Speaking to The Glasgow Guardian after the event she said that she left university to become a full time activist: “I was experiencing a lot of climate anxiety and felt that my time is precious and valuable, and maybe short, because of the climate crisis.

“I still had four years ahead of me on my degree; I was imagining what the world would look like in four years if I did nothing and if everyone around me was doing the same as me, which was very limited because I was in formal education. Since then I’ve been able to focus a lot more time on tackling the climate crisis.”

To find COP26 Coalition on Instagram, or Twitter, please click the links.


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