United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) is going on from Sunday October 01to Friday 12 November. The summit will be the centre of media attention as world leaders make decisions whose repercussions will be felt by future generations. As well as heads of state, some 25,000 aides and officials are said to be taking part and a series of intense discussions is scheduled for all the days.
Although this has been branded a pivotal moment in world climate policy, many are sceptical about its chances of producing concrete results. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hosting the event, could muster only token optimism when pressed on the matter, stating that it “hangs in the balance” and rated the chances of the conference’s success as a very conservative “six out of ten.”
And with none of the previous 25 grand international climate conferences failing to appease the global appetite for fossil fuels, the precedent for pessimism is clear.
To this end, many grassroots movements of climate activists are exasperated by the bombastic “blah blahblah” of world leaders, whose hollow commitments are quickly identified as hot air and posturing. The acute lack of political will to seriously confront climate change has already seen climate protests around the world and, though expectations are low for the success of COP26, thousands of activists see the conference as a chance to capture media attention and broadcast their message around the world.
Alongside the throngs of delegates, activists from around the world have descended on Glasgow in an effort to hold world leaders to account and hold their own discussions in parallel to the official schedule. Organisers are expecting huge demonstrations and predict that next Friday’s will rally over 100,000 supporters.
Thousands of climate activists have arrived in Glasgow to pressure politicians during the COP26 conference on climate change.
Campaigners, including Greta Thunberg, arrived in the Scottish city on Saturday by train and on foot, ahead of the conference’s official start on Sunday. A specially-organised train journey organised by Youth for Sustainable Travel, called the Rail to the COP train, carried around 300 activists and 170 others to Glasgow from London on Saturday. Ambassadors and members of European Parliament were also on board, including Joao Vale de Almeida, the EU’s ambassador to the UK.
Mr. Vale de Almeida said in a speech onboard the train that the climate is an area where the EU and UK have common ground. ”We have our issue and differences, some of them are right now on the screen on my phone,” he said. “But the climate is one area in which we can seriously contribute to address global problems.”
Speaking ahead of the conference, Boris Johnson said: “COP26 will be the world’s moment of truth. The question everyone is asking is whether we seize this moment or let it slip away.
“I hope world leaders will hear them and come to Glasgow ready to answer them with decisive action. Together, we can mark the beginning of the end of climate change – and end the uncertainty once and for all.”
World leaders are set to arrive later on Sunday, after attending the G20 summit in Rome. However, China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are both set to miss the conference.
COP26 president Alok Sharma acknowledged the absences, telling Sky News: “Of course, the world leaders’ summit is really important – we’ve got over 120 world leaders coming from all over the globe – but what we are also going to have is two weeks of detailed negotiations and those teams are here, I’ve met with some of the representatives from Russia, from China, over the last few days.
“That is what is going to be really important, to get over the line these key negotiating issues.
“It is a chance, quite frankly, for all these countries to show leadership – this is the point where they have to stand up and be counted.”
Extinction Rebellion activists have a presence in Glasgow, with the group’s Scottish branch greeting arriving campaigners at the McLennan Arch on Glasgow Green.
Many others arrived on foot, following “pilgrimages” from across the country and the world. Members of Marcha Glasgow, a Spanish activist group, walked from Portsmouth to Glasgow after arriving in the UK by ferry from Bilbao. The Camino to COP26 group walked from London and Bristol in just under two months.
Religious groups also arrived in the Scottish city, including the Young Christian Climate Network, whose members walked 1200 miles from Cornwall. The Ecumenical Pilgrimage for Climate Justice group arrived from as far afield as Poland and Sweden.
The issue of support for poorer countries in the global south, which are most affected by climate change but have contributed least to it, looks set to be a key point of contention during the conference. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who met on Saturday with a group of indigenous leaders from North and South America, said she would try to help get this message across.
“As representatives of indigenous peoples and the Global South, they have an important message to convey on behalf of those least responsible for the global climate emergency, who are often first and most severely affected by its consequences,” Ms. Sturgeon said.
Similarly, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is lading Nepal’s governmental delegation to take part in the COP26.Besides that around 15 climate experts and youth campaigners have reached in Glasgow with the agenda on loss and damage in Nepal due to climate change effects and recent natural disasters. They are engaged in sideline meetings of regional and thematic groups to influence and bargain for reasonable supports to Nepal and other countries suffering same crises to fight climate change effects.