Jeevan Farthing, Alex Enaholo and Rothery Sullivan each give us the scoop on what happened at the events of the COP26 People’s Summit, hosted across the final days of the climate conference by the COP26 Coalition.
Boycott! The UK arms trade and the neoliberal economy of war.
Reasonably well attended and inside the splendour of the Glasgow Film Theatre, this panel focused on the devastating consequences of the arms trade for places like Palestine. Huda Ammori, co-founder of Palestine Action, spoke of her investigation into the University of Manchester and their investment in a company called Caterpillar, which manufactured the bulldozers that were then used to destroy Palestinian homes. Though not discussed in great detail, the talk implicitly criticised the role of military pollution in intensifying the climate crisis. Most interestingly, the Q&A session sparked a debate over the best way to administer a just transition for areas in the UK which are heavily dependent on the defence industry, such as the West of Scotland.
“The Q&A session sparked a debate over the best way to administer a just transition for areas in the UK which are heavily dependent on the defence industry…”
Reclaiming justice: disability, the blind spot in climate activism.
This was a moving and emotional discussion within the Fred Paton Community Centre. The title of the talk referenced a “blind spot in climate activism” and this manifested itself in a disappointingly low turnout. Nonetheless, the speakers delivered a thorough exploration of disability politics, focusing in particular on the social model of disability which can be crafted by disabled people themselves rather than imposed on them. Emily Obree, from the Glasgow Disability Network, said that they have “contempt for how this society feels about me” and wanted this talk, the first of its kind in COP’s 30-year history, to be a “call to arms to all of you”.
“Emily Obree, from the Glasgow Disability Network, wanted this talk, the first of its kind in COP’s 30-year history, to be a ‘call to arms to all of you’.”
See you in court: Holding governments and corporations account for the climate crisis.
Chaired by environmental lawyer Tessa Khan, also in the Fred Paton Community Centre, this talk was so popular that the number of attendees exceeded the number of seats available. The panelists discussed the “duty of care” proposition often used in climate litigation, which resulted in a successful lawsuit by Friends of the Earth Netherlands against Shell – forcing the company to reduce their CO2 emissions. Despite this success, Noah Walker-Crawford from Germanwatch reminded the audience that climate lawsuits are an “act of desperation”, which would “not be necessary if the political process worked properly”.
Exposing False Solutions: how dangerous distractions are undermining real zero in a hurry.
Focusing on group discussion and voicing new ideas, this event centred on brief introductions to four of the main “false solutions” to the climate crisis. This talk was led by climate scientists and Friends of the Earth Scotland. The topics of discussion were carbon offsetting, blue hydrogen, net zero and transportation. These were issues that were not addressed across other parts of the COP26 periphery events and are misunderstood by much of the public and many activists. Highlighting that many of these “false solutions” relied on unproven technologies and pushed back the responsibility for the climate crisis to younger generations, the speakers then noted that these were the same strategies which were the backbone of the COP26 negotiations and the UK government’s climate change plans. More time was devoted to group discussion than to the experts, which meant that the issues of false solutions were not always elaborated on.
A Global Green New Deal and how to win it: lessons from the movement and progressive politicians.
The all-woman panel was made up of Green MP Caroline Lucas; Joenia Wapichana, the first indigenous congresswoman in Brazil; Manon Aubry, French MEP and leader of the progressive movement in Brussels; Patience Nabukalu, an Ugandan youth activist; and Fatima Ibrahim from grassroots organisation Green New Deal Rising. Each panelist spoke for five minutes, each focusing on a different aspect of the Green New Deal. There were several discussions around the topic of financing: the need for it, and how to unify the climate movement around it. The event focused on climate change as a symptom of the current global political order and emphasised that a shift away from capitalism was necessary to tackle the climate crisis. The international perspective allowed for a movement away from the overwhelmingly white and middle-class speakers at many COP26 events. The panel was exceptionally well received by the audience, with multiple standing ovations throughout the speeches.
“The international perspective allowed for a movement away from the overwhelmingly white and middle-class speakers at many COP26 events.”
How our voices are silenced.
This talk included panelists from all over the world, including the United States, Nigeria, Argentina, Brazil, and Costa Rica. The panelists came to discuss how the climate crisis is affecting their communities, and how their voices are silenced by governments who exploit these communities.
Anthony Ramón Pérez Soto discussed the lack of representation of indigenous people in climate activism, noting that it “was a bit discouraging on Saturday at the march to see people who are not native shadow the voices of indigenous people… We just want to be heard.” While he was talking, many of the panelists nodded in agreement, and many of their following statements retained a similar theme.
“Anthony Ramón Pérez Soto discussed the lack of representation of indigenous people in climate activism, noting that it ‘was a bit discouraging on Saturday at the march to see people who are not native shadow the voices of indigenous people…'”
Maya Lazzaro also noted the importance of fighting for indigenous women’s rights, explaining that large oil companies, who employ mostly white men, are the reason a lot of indigenous women go missing each year. When large companies take over indigenous land, more women and gender-nonconforming people go missing. Fighting for indigenous safety includes fighting against the climate crisis. Anthony finished the talk by addressing Western civilisations: “Capitalism invented the problem. It’s not our problem, it’s your problem.” This summarised the overall message from the panelists.
No climate justice without social justice – no social justice without climate justice.
A panel came together in the Glasgow Film Theatre to talk about how “climate justice and social justice are closely intertwined”. Each speaker focused on the ways in which other areas of work – such as global economy, international finance, peace and security, and gender justice – need to address climate change in order to succeed. The talk emphasised the importance of a just transition, with Yvonne Blos, who specialises in international climate policy noting: “A just transition maximises climate action while bringing all affected groups to the table to minimise the negative impacts of climate change.” Videos were also shown along these same themes, with one of them stating: “Without social justice there can be no successful structural change.” The panel ended with a Q&A, from which there was a lot of audience participation despite the low turnout. Many of the questions focused on the logistics of bringing about a “just transition”, to which the panel provided thorough replies.