Hope lives on after COP26… as 1.5 hangs by a thread

Sussex Bylines’ roving reporter at COP26, Anna Scott, spent last week on the streets of Glasgow with activists and campaigners, joining marches and demos, and recording her impressions and conversations with the many people that she met… 

A white on red embroidered banner  calling on the rich nations to meet the $100 billion in finance promised to developing nations.
Letting down the world: wealthy countries renege on their promises. Goal 3 is ‘mobilising finance’. Photo credit: Anna Scott

The contrast between the passion, determination and creativity of the youth groups and representatives from indigenous peoples’ campaigns out on the streets and the horse-trading and political shenanigans going on within the conference itself was stark. The deal fell short of the goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. World leaders are being urged to try again in 2022.

A regional oceans and climate expert from Tonga, Taholo Kami, expressed the general frustration with the pace of decision-making: “I think we may be finding leadership at subnational and national level, private sector and even consumer and community level offer more hope at this time than the lethargic Cop process where we are forced to celebrate painful and minimal shifts with text and leave not knowing if this will result in meaningful outcomes.”

Anna’s report from her final morning captures the sense of shared goals and camaraderie that she had witnessed, and also a sense of wistfulness and a hope that so many voices raised in protest over the two weeks of the conference would not be ignored.

COP 26: Leaving Glasgow

I woke early, knowing that this was to be my last day in Glasgow. After the energising Youth March, I felt a twinge of sadness that I wouldn’t be joining the Global Climate March today. It promised to be even bigger but the prospect of wheeling my suitcase through the crowds was not an enticing one. 

Before the rain set in, I was keen to get out for a walk through Kelvingrove Park. The remnants of the previous day’s march were scattered about like clues in a treasure hunt. Some keen crafters had embroidered COP26 pledges and fastened them to park benches and several statues sported traffic cones on their heads. 

After checking out of my youth hostel, I headed to the Turkish cafe next door where I could have breakfast and do some writing. This was a good decision. Before long a kind man came along and gave me a free copy of a beautiful book giving a voice to the children in the climate movement (Climate Change Childrens Voices) and featuring some gorgeous photographs of their protests 

To top it all off, the cafe then offered me a complimentary pot of tea. I was very happy! 

Later, as I walked towards the train station, I made a small detour to watch the Global Climate March. Glasgow was looking particularly majestic in the rain and fog and the thousands of demonstrators had not been put off by the weather. 

Anna’s COP26 diary: previous articles

I passed a group of Extinction Rebellion protestors who had named themselves ‘The Greenwash Busters’ Complete with hazmat suits, they joyfully posed for a photograph – my last from Glasgow.

Finally stowing my suitcase on board a busy Avanti Westcoast Service, I felt exhaustion hit me. My trip to Glasgow had been incredibly exciting, packed with interesting people and new experiences. It had also been deeply emotional.  

Hearing the voices of so many people who were already on the frontline of climate change had brought home to me the urgency of the situation now facing us. Throughout my time at COP26, my mood had alternated between optimism and pessimism on a regular basis. Yet as I watched the Scottish hills whistle past the window, my memories of all that I had seen and heard did give me some hope.

There had been so many people in Glasgow, all bringing such positive energy and determination for change, that I had to cling to the belief that they would never give up. I know that I, for one, will not.

Hazmat-suited members of Extinction Rebellion on the streets on Glasgow draw attention to 'greenwashing'
Extinction Rebellion … the Greenwash Busters. Photo: Anna Scott

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