#PostcardFromCOP – A personal view from the Glasgow COP26 Climate Conference


Throughout COP26, one of the Sustainable St Albans trustees has been in Glasgow with work. Each day, she shared a #PostcardFromCOP with us on Twitter. Together, they give a personal perspective on the atmosphere in Glasgow and what an ordinary person – not a world leader or negotiator – makes of their first ever climate conference. 


Still wondering what COP is and why it matters? If you think a picture speaks 1000 words, have a look at this great infographic which explains COP26 and what rides on it.


October 31st

Step 1, getting the train north towards COP26, very slowly due to trees on the power lines; perhaps a sign of increasingly common extreme weather?

Train to COP26
Train to COP26 Photo: Sustainable St Albans

November 1st 

#PostcardFromCOP Glasgow is fully prepared and covered in COP26 signage. The whole Scottish Power building has been decked in the @warmingstripes (not a great photo, I know, but there’s an understandably big police presence, and they came to ask why I was taking photos).

Glasgow COP26
Photos: Sustainable St Albans

Just seen an XR funeral march go past, in the middle of the bustling shopping centre Buchanan Street. Incongruous. #PostcardFromCOP

XR Funeral March Glasgow COP26
XR Funeral March Glasgow COP26 Photo: Sustainable St Albans

November 2nd

1/ #PostcardFromCOP today is a thread about fringe events, and why they are so important. Of course, most of the attention is on the world leaders and the negotiators, in the Blue Zone of COP.  But, across the city, there are hundreds of fringe events.

2/ Want to see what I mean? Choose a day and have a look (don’t forget to keep clicking ‘show more events’ to unscroll everything on the day you’ve picked:

3/ These are events run by civil society, for civil society. They are places for charities and NGOs to meet & mingle, raise issues, make plans, and call for action.  Remember most of us haven’t been able to be in a room together for 18 months, and many are in foreign countries.

4/ All importantly, they are a place for voices to be heard which are normally silenced.  Indigenous people, people from the global south, young people, faith groups, poverty campaigners. Voices of the people hardest hit by climate change and issues of climate justice.

5/ Here is just one example, from tonight.  A collaborative event from @Tearfund @YCCN @CAFOD @christianaid @Greenanglicans @InterfaithScot @sciaf and more, hosted in the beautiful @sgt_church. They were presenting over 150,000 actions which people in their groups had taken.

COP26 Fringe Event
COP26 Fringe Event. Photo: Sustainable St Albans

6/ The representatives were from the Philippines, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Nigeria, Ireland, Scotland. They have collectively gathered petitions, walked across countries, prayed, and gathered people behind significant declarations.

They said, “We share this one, tiny, fragile, interrelated planet”.

7/ Each in turn they said, “We call on the leaders of the world to take urgent action, we demand climate justice for all, and care about the earth we all depend on.”  They called for fair climate finance. They said, “We share this one, tiny, fragile, interrelated planet”.

8/ The youth relay from @YCCNetwork had carried the sails of this boat all the way from the G7 in Cornwall to COP26 in Glasgow. It says “rise to the moment”.  It symbolises that we are all in the same storm but not in the same boat.

YCC Network COP26 Sail
YCC Network COP26 Sail. Photo: Sustainable St Albans

9/ The challenge is getting these amazing voices *heard*. These amazing fringe events aren’t in the Green Zone, let alone the Blue Zone. What can we each do to amplify them?

10/10 Can we write to our MPs and call for climate justice? Can we fundraise for advocacy? Can we share their stories? Can we reach out in our own communities to voiceless groups, and ask how we can amplify them? Tonight, a very long #PostcardFromCOP; thanks for sticking with me.

November 3rd

#PostcardFromCOP There are 3 different, linked things going on at COP. Fringe events (see yesterday), the Blue Zone (= world leaders + negotiators, it’s what you see on TV) & the Green Zone (= a big busy expo with stands, panels & talks, open to the public if you booked quickly).

Blue Zone and Green Zone at COP26
Blue Zone and Green Zone at COP26 Photo: Sustainable St Albans

November 4th

#PostcardFromCOP Out and about in Glasgow; this one speaks for itself.

COP26
COP26. Photo: Sustainable St Albans

November 5th – the day of the Youth Climate Strike

1/ #PostcardFromCOP Right here, right now, there are thousands of young people, and parents, and grand parents marching through central Glasgow. “What do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now!” #FridaysForFuture

Video from COP26 Glasgow Youth Climate Strike. Click to see video on Twitter.

2/ It’s hard to get across the scale.  It’s going right down the hill, and then snaking back as far as the eye can see.

COP26 Glasgow Youth Climate Strike
COP26 Glasgow Youth Climate Strike. Photos: Sustainable St Albans

“It’s hard to get across the scale.”

3/ I hope she’s right.

"It's not too late to change" at COP26 Glasgow Youth Climate Strike
“It’s not too late to change” at COP26 Glasgow Youth Climate Strike. Photo: Sustainable St Albans.

4/ She definitely is.

"Stop promising, start doing" at COP26 Glasgow Youth Climate Strike.
“Stop promising, start doing” at COP26 Glasgow Youth Climate Strike. Photo: Sustainable St Albans

November 6th 

This was the day of the mass mobilisation, when there were 200 rallies around the world, including 500 people gathered here in St Albans and 100,000+ in Glasgow.

#PostcardFromCOP People are gathering and starting to march. This is one block of many, walking by. It’s going to be big. (Despite the Glasgow rain.)

Video from COP26 Glasgow rally. Click to see video on Twitter.
Video from COP26 Glasgow rally. Click to see video on Twitter.

What do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now. #PostcardFromCOP

Video from COP26 Glasgow rally.
Video from COP26 Glasgow rally. Click to see video on Twitter.

#PostcardFromCOP In the middle of just one of the blocks, walking through Glasgow. The noise is amazing, bouncing off the walls.

COP26 Glasgow rally
COP26 Glasgow rally. Photos: Sustainable St Albans

#PostcardFromCOP Nearly 4pm, and still marching ….. One incident we’ve heard of involving the police, otherwise all peaceful.

November 7th

#PostcardFromCOP  Everyone with Blue Zone clearance (negotiators & official observers, not me!) gets free travel on public transport, a real advantage given accommodation shortages means a lot of people are staying in outlying towns & in Edinburgh. Nice bit of joined-up thinking.

COP26 public transport
COP26 public transport. Photo: Sustainable St Albans

November 8th

#PostcardFromCOP Audible gasp today from the audience at the Green Zone event I attended, when told that if the fossil fuel lobby were a country delegation, it would be the largest at COP with 503 delegates. Very, very sobering.

If the fossil fuel lobby were a country delegation, it would be the largest at COP with 503 delegates. Very, very sobering.”

November 9th

#PostcardFromCOP Greenwashing, or really green? It’s so hard to tell. Businesses have stands in the Green Zone pushing their eco-credentials and there are adverts all around town. Just wish the charities, NGOs and campaign groups had access to the same kind of marketing budgets.

Green marketing
Green marketing. Photos: Sustainable St Albans

November 10th

#PostcardFromCOP (Some) hope is in the air. Keep your fingers firmly crossed.

November 11th

#PostcardFromCOP Moving today that the bustling Green Zone fell silent at 11am for the Remembrance Day silence.

November 12th

1/ A final #PostcardFromCOP thread from the train home. The ultimate question, “has it been a success?”. And the answer, I’m afraid is, “we don’t know quite yet”.  The official end time is today, but COPs, like babies, often go 2-3 days over their due date.

2/ Hard as it is to imagine (& stop to think what this means for the caterers, and the police) is that it might end today, tomorrow or Sunday. I’m told it is a *good* sign if it runs long. Extra time means there is something meaningful to discuss, that they are trying to land.

3/ Meantime, people are scouring the draft text and coming to views about how good it is. Some are seeing it as a glass half full:

  • progress on many fronts
  • gap between Paris and 1.5 somewhat closed
  • loss and damage mentioned
  • commitment to adaptation as well as mitigation.

4/ Some are half glass empty or worse:

  • gap between Paris and 1.5 is still big 
  • too little focus on the impacts of climate change
  • insufficient finance for adaptation
  • lack of funding mechanism for loss and damage
  • lack of debt relief for the most vulnerable countries.

5/ One key point is whether the government can agree to coming back with increased “NDCs” (commitments) sooner than the planned 5 years. The most affected are calling for 1 year.  Perhaps there will be a compromise.

6/ Meantime, what does it all mean for a group like us? From what I’ve seen this fortnight, we are one part of a massive patchwork quilt of charities, cities, universities, businesses, faith groups, & national governments, working with passion & commitment to solve this problem.

7/ One standout quote from the week is from the transition networks own @robintransition “If we wait for governments to act, it will be too late, and if we only act as individuals, it will be too little, but if communities act it might just be enough.”

“If we wait for governments to act, it will be too late, and if we only act as individuals, it will be too little, but if communities act it might just be enough.”

@robintransition

8/ I take enormous comfort and motivation from seeing the collective effort.  It’s helped me see SSA as one piece in this giant climate action jigsaw; we can slot in our piece, and work with others to help them slot in theirs.

9/ And I take enormous comfort and motivation from seeing 100,000 people turn out in the November rain to call for climate justice.  What if each of those people has instead stayed home and said, “What’s the point of me going? What difference will one person make?”.

10 of 10/ I’ll leave the last word to the remarkable young climate activist Vanessa Nakate, “your actions matter, no action is too small to make a difference, no voice is too small to make a difference”.

What next after COP26? What can normal people do?

“We are one part of a massive patchwork quilt of charities, cities, universities, businesses, faith groups, & national governments, working with passion & commitment to solve this problem.”

If you’ve been feeling motivated by COP to do more, here are some ideas:

  1. Talk about the climate issues more with your friends, family, colleagues.  Normalise it.  Not sure how?  Help is at hand. 
  2. Take a step yourself.  You know what’s achievable in your life.  Need to know how? Help is at hand.  
  3. Join forces with a local group; there is power in numbers. Not sure who or how? There is a list here, and – of course – we’d love to hear from you.

Join in with #CountdownToCOP today

Join in with #CountdownToCOP. Environmental groups of St Albans District have come together to set up the St Albans Climate Action Network who are hosting their own special St Albans District Count Us In page. Simply visit the page, explore the 16 steps and pledge to take one step by choosing “Take a Step”. When you register, tick that you are part of the “St Albans Climate Network” to have your step counted on the St Albans page.

You can track the carbon impact of your own actions. As more people join, we will all see our cumulative efforts across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages. 

We’re in! – are you? Local residents Emily, Lizzie, Alastair, Kate, Caroline and Catherine are all taking action.

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