Cop26 protesters’ anger and frustration marked by optimism | policeman 26

ISLANDOn Tuesday morning, activists dressed in the red jumpsuits posed as viewers of the dystopian Netflix series Squid Game strike posed to the assembled media on the south bank of Clyde, just across from the Cop26 convention center. Across the river and further into the city center later Tuesday, Anne Thoday was squatting on the sidewalk on St Vincent Street next to her surdo drum as a thick line of police prevented Extinction Rebellion protesters from moving toward the convention center.

“I think there are a lot of grandparents involved,” said the 59-year-old social worker, who arrived from Derbyshire on Sunday. “This cop really feels like the last chance to turn things around. I don’t feel very hopeful, but I still felt compelled to come here.”

Native representatives from Alaska, the United States, Panama, Amazonia, and Patagonia were among those marching.
Native representatives from Alaska, the United States, Panama, Amazonia, and Patagonia were among those marching. Photo: Murdo MacLeod / The Guardian

This modest gathering – about 100 protesters – was typical of a smaller-than-expected protest presence so far at Cop26. No one is quite sure why, although anxiety about coronavirus certainly plays a role. Activists, however, argue that it is also the result of exclusionary structures that go far beyond Covid transfer concerns.

Joe Karp-Saway, of Global Justice Now, said people had been deterred by Covid, “but also the huge cost of travel and accommodation to Glasgow and miscommunication from the British government and the UNFCCC [the United Nations framework convention on climate change], which means there are fewer civil society groups from the global south. “

He noted that these early days were only the start of actions that would be spread over the fourteen days, as well as the major mobilizations planned for this weekend, where up to 100,000 people are expected to march in Glasgow, and similar demonstrations will take place across the UK and around the world.

The XR activists moved again with a banner with pink letters that read: “How many officers should arrest climate chaos?” When they arrived outside the venue later in the afternoon, police closed Clyde Arc, preventing protesters from continuing their march, but also stopping other visitors from going to events around the green zone on the other side of the river. The walk to the nearest open walkway and back would take at least an hour.

Inside the conference center, Fatima Ibrahim, from Green New Deal Rising, had a hard time sharing Boris Johnson’s cautious optimism surrounding the summit. There was frustration and fatigue among activists, she said. “People are tired of rhetoric and false promises.” The police acted harshly on her. “I have not seen protesters being met by police in the same way with former police officers while civil society is locked out of places in the blue zone.”

Activists urge dealers to 'End Climate Betrayal' with concrete action over the next two weeks.
Activists urge dealers to ‘End Climate Betrayal’ with concrete action over the next two weeks. Photo: Murdo MacLeod / The Guardian

For those who reached the other side of the river, young and indigenous activists met for speeches and another photo call while holding illuminated letters spelling “End Climate Betrayal.”

In her speech, Mitzi Tan, a convener of Fridays For Future for the Philippines, was angry – the leaders are not in there, she made a wave across the river, they are in front of her, she told the small crowd to hearty cheers.

The mood among activists was angry, the 24-year-old from Manila agreed afterwards. “It’s only been the second day, but I’ve already heard so many apologies.”

After arriving in Glasgow on Sunday, she had attended back-to-back events and meetings. “I have no sense of time,” she laughed, admitting she had started taking vitamin D supplements, “because I miss sunlight so much.”

Extinction Rebellion protesters outside JP Morgan's financial services headquarters.
Extinction Rebellion protesters outside JP Morgan’s financial services headquarters. Photo: Murdo MacLeod / The Guardian

It was just as important to be in Glasgow to build networks as to protest, she said. “One of the best feelings is meeting people from all over the globe and hugging each other because we’ve been organizing together online for a year and some of us have never met each other in person.” Wednesday morning Ibrahim and her team challenged the British Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, on why there was no mention of the climate in his latest budget as he walked through the conference’s blue zone. His team demanded that they be removed before he spoke to the plenary.

For Green New Deal Rising, these fourteen days are also geared towards training new activists: it will welcome 100 young people from across the UK to its center at a warehouse on the east end of Glasgow. While the instant momentum is building up for this weekend’s marches, “what we’re really working towards is how we keep [leaders] accounts after 12 November ”.

At lunchtime on Wednesday, Extinction Rebellion met again to protest against corporate greenwashing in the city center. As the drums blared out, activists noticed the swell crowd of 300 or more, indicating that the number of protests increased as the week progressed.

Meanwhile, outside the conference hall, native activists met after a march from Glasgow Green.

Txai Surui, daughter of a tribal chief from the Brazilian Amazon, had delivered an eloquent appeal to the conference on Monday, telling delegates: “The earth is talking. She tells us we have no more time.” The 24-year-old has been wearing the headdress with bird feathers that her father and uncle have made for her, which she said “to go into battle”.

As she looked forward to the weekend marches, she encouraged people across the globe to attend. “Everyone should go to these marches to show the power and strength of all people in this struggle. This will be a moment for us to send a message that they can not do what they want because the power is with the people.”

Leave a Comment