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The Glasgow Guardian spoke to attenders of the Extinction Rebellion (XR) protest against greenwashing and ecocide at Buchanan Galleries. They called out political self-interest, corporate disinformation, and global inequalities at COP26.

Over 1,000 people gathered on the steps of Buchanan Galleries at midday on 3 November, carrying props, flags, and banners protesting against false climate solutions. People carrying signs advertising “greenwash services” weaved through the crowd, offering to “make clean [the] dirty dealings” of those willing to pay the price. 

Several speakers took to the steps to condemn governments and corporations for their greenwashing practices. An airline pilot from Safe Landing, speaking to the crowd in full uniform stated: “The [aviation] industry is leading workers over a cliff. We need an industry led by science, not by greenwash.” He called for an end to false solutions such as alternative “sustainable” aviation fuel, taxation of international jet fuel, and an end to domestic flights in the United Kingdom: “The money [spent on appearing green] could be used to pay for climate mitigation and reparations to low-income, low-emitting countries who are most affected by the climate crisis.”

“The [aviation] industry is leading workers over a cliff. We need an industry led by science, not by greenwash.”

Safe Landing airline pilot

The Glasgow Guardian spoke to Gemma Kettlewell of the Mossmorran Action Group. She criticised the greenwashing practices and climate denial of gas companies like Shell and ExxonMobil and the lack of government action to close down and stop the pollution of petrochemical plants like Mossmorran. She said: “The clock is ticking. We don’t have time to wait. If you’re gonna be a climate leader and stand on the global stage, like at COP26, you can’t ignore what’s going on on your doorstep." She called for the prioritisation of community health and investment in green industries and green, clean, well-paid skilled jobs.

"If you’re gonna be a climate leader and stand on the global stage, like at COP26, you can’t ignore what’s going on on your doorstep."

Gemma Kettlewell, Mossmorran Action Group

Another attendee from the XR’s Telford division emphasised the urgency of the climate and ecological crisis. Expressing her concern about corporate greenwashing and the hold fossil fuel lobbyists have over governments and politicians and stating the importance of public pressure.

When asked about her hopes for COP26, she voiced her doubts: “They’ve had 25 previous COPs since 1992 and we’re in a worse place now than we’ve ever been. This COP26 is the last point at which we can actually change the direction of travel. If we don’t take action to keep all fossil fuels in the ground we will be heading for the destruction of the planet."

"If we don’t take action to keep all fossil fuels in the ground we will be heading for the destruction of the planet."

XR Telford division member

Matt Dobson of the Scottish Socialist Party also spoke to The Glasgow Guardian to express his scepticism about COP: “We don’t have any faith in this summit to solve the climate crisis because in reality what you have is lobbying from big business and greenwashing. The people need to solve the issue rather than [world leaders]."

Viola, an attendee with insider knowledge of the proceedings inside the blue zone emphasised: “It’s not gonna save us. World leaders are not actually going to save the world through greenwashing solutions." She continued: “I don’t believe in the COP.

“It’s not an effective way of solving these issues. They make false promises, focus too much on net zero, not enough on 1.5C or human rights. It's a corporate circus with so many vested interests. Definitely not in the interests of the people.”

"It's a corporate circus with so many vested interests."

Viola, accredited for COP26 blue zone

She was also critical of the ticketing of the green zone, saying: “[They need to] listen to the people. Let the people in, get the polluters out. The climate crisis is a colonial crisis and it’s time we acknowledge that within the blue zone not just out in the streets. As long as we don't, there’s not gonna be anything revolutionary, it’s just gonna continue as business as usual.”

The Red and Blue Rebels both performed during the march, alongside XR’s Drummers Samba Band and dancers from Divest Strathclyde's Discobedience, BP or not BP, and Fridays For Future.

The march down Sauchiehall Street was interrupted by a police cordon and was forced to turn back towards George Square after an extended wait at the corner of Sauchiehall and Renfield Street. Forced to split up, half of the march continued to George Square, for more speeches and an “oil spill” performance.

The other half briefly occupied St. Vincent Street, protesting outside several banks before marching on to the COP26 venue at the OVO Hydro. Four were arrested for locking-on, blocking the entrance, and spraying chalk paint at the building. The protest was finally allowed to disperse at 7pm.


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