Credit: Kimberley Mannion

Protest in Kelvingrove Park while world leaders dine in Kelvingrove Art Gallery

By Kimberley Mannion

The Glasgow Guardian speaks to protestors who expressed their anger at politicians from across the world taking part in COP26.

Protestors and Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists gathered in Kelvingrove Park on the evening of 1 November to urge world leaders to take action against the climate crisis, whilst the leaders themselves dined at a banquet in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum just a stone’s throw down the road.

The activists gathered next to the skatepark in Kelvingrove, before moving down to a side street next to Argyle Street, where the world leaders were being escorted in motorcades from the COP26 at the SECC along to Kelvingrove Museum. 

One of the iconic XR drum players told The Glasgow Guardian she had travelled by foot to the conference from London. Commenting on the dinner at the museum, she said: “It seems to me that they need to be modelling the world that we want to see, and that would mean living in a more sustainable and potentially frugal way, so I don’t know the details of it but if it’s some extravagant thing that doesn’t really seem in keeping with the crisis that is happening.”

“The problem here at COP26 is that the people who are sitting around the table trying to decide what has to be done for our future are still in the bargaining or denial stage … the people who are here [at the protest], who can’t get in, are the ones who are in the acceptance stage. So it’s ridiculous to have people having a massive banquet, they should be out here” one activist from Devon told The Glasgow Guardian.

The Glasgow Guardian also spoke to Jess, an observer in the United Nations who studies democratic processes and how to get citizens’ voices heard by the people in power. He came to the Kelvingrove protest because he believes it “really important” to talk to protesters as well as those with seats at the table in the UN. 

Karola and Alexandra, youth activists from Frankfurt, travelled to Glasgow on the rail to the COP “climate train”. The pair said they were hopeful for progress at the conference, but not particularly optimistic, citing disappointments such as the inaccessibility of the conference to activists from outside Europe and the West. “The past four summits have been held in Europe, and I think that says a lot.”  

Jacob Johns travelled from the US for the conference, telling The Glasgow Guardian he felt it necessary as “we are facing planetary extinction – we are talking about the survival of the human race.” Jacob organised with XR groups from North America and was part of the organising process, specifically in the creation of GoMos, which are metal pieces that are designed to display messages when placed over lights. 

The diversity of views within XR is far vaster than the singular banner would suggest. The Glasgow Guardian also spoke to Beth, 26, an XR protester from Harrogate, who expressed a muted optimism for the conference, in sharp contrast to the XR Drummer’s Board, which derided the entire conference as a talk show. 

*Kimberley Mannion, Ollie Rudden, Alex Enaholo, Megan Farrimond, Erin Doak, Athina Bohner and Janka Deák


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