Documenting the protests around COP26

Over the 12 days of COP26, we met a selection of students, parents, great-grandparents, campaigners, eight-year-olds and more at various fringe events. What was their take on the summit? THE FACE finds out.

Patsy Tchimoa-Ouethy, 21, Glasgow

What are you doing at this march?
Taking pictures of everything. The climate crisis is such a big issue and it’s not publicised enough. Everyone’s like: It’s fine!” And I’m like: The planet is dying!

Best thing you’ve photographed at this protest?
Two guys jumping straddles mid-air.

Does the power lie in the people?
I think because there are so many people who are so passionate, there should be some change. If they don’t make a change it’s going to be a big issue. You fly world leaders to Scotland, of all places – Scotland! And you do nothing about it? Imagine that.

Hope, 19, London

Why are you here today?
I’m a new student at the University of Glasgow, how could I not come? COP is in my city, so I have to support the movement. I’ve seen such sick creative stuff: an all-female drumming band and some guy dressed as a dying Poseidon surrounded by fish to name a few.

What do you think will come out of COP?
From what I’ve heard, it sounds like a lot of false pledges. I didn’t know what greenwashing was before this week but now I’ve found out about it, it seems the summit so far has been a bunch of bollocks. What will come out of it is just publicity.

Have you learned anything from this week?
Not really, but there’s loads of reading I need to do. It’s one thing finding stuff to read and another thing to actually read it. But I definitely want to!

Jean Baptiste Redde, 64, France

Tell us about yourself.
My civilian status says I’m 64, but in fact, I am a million years of age and I was born this morning because each day is a new birth. I used to be a teacher but I stopped 10 years ago due to the [climate] emergency we face, so I became an activist full-time – for social and ecological rights, peace and democracy everywhere.

Why did you feel you needed to come to Glasgow for COP26?
We have had enough violence on Earth. There has been too much human and animal genocide. We have to act steadily and forcefully to respect all creatures and nature. I’m here to ask our decision-makers to act, and it’s very important for activists all over the world to act together.

Robert Omwa, Kenya

Why are you in Glasgow today?
I’m a student at the University of Sussex and I travelled six hours to come here and add my voice to the climate conversation. I feel that people in the Global South are those most affected, but their voices are not heard. In my country, we’re seeing a lot of floods and drought. I thought that being here would help add to the message.

Do you have hope in the world’s leaders?
I’ve got no hope in them – my hope lies in the streets. The streets are full of young people, they are the future. The conference guys were the ones that created this problem.

Eileen, 59, Glasgow

Why are you protesting?
I want to do my bit. I’m not going to give up meat, I’m not going to become a true vegetarian and definitely not a vegan. But if I can cut down, that feels good.

Do you think the Scottish government is doing enough to tackle climate change?
Don’t even get me started on the Scottish government. I don’t trust them to help one bit. We need to get a better working relationship between all the parts of the UK and do this. You [young people] are the future of this planet. You’ve got to make them do it.

Lois, 19, London

What’s the best thing you’ve seen this week?
I’ve been loving the Extinction Rebellion marching band, they brought great spirit. It’s also been lovely to see so many students and children [coming together].

Are you hopeful that our leaders are going to help us?
No fucking way! They’re useless. I think other countries’ leaders may help, but not ours. I don’t know much about Scottish politics as I’ve just moved here, but I get the feeling that Nicola Sturgeon has more brain cells than Boris. We need something drastic to happen. All this talk isn’t getting us anywhere.

Noa, 16, The Netherlands; Sofia Belen Montes De Oca Peninger, 14, Argentina; Océanne Kahanyshyn-Fontaine, Canada

Did you meet at the summit?
Sofia: We’re part of a youth programme called Taking It Global: Decarbonise, Decolonise, where we discuss [climate] issues and solutions in our home countries. We met in real life two days ago but have been working together for a few weeks online.

What have your roles been at COP?
Sofia: Today I went to a reunion of women in STEM. It was beautiful, I loved it.

Océanne: It’s Fridays for Future today, so obviously we had to be there. It was so well organised and you could sense the energy in the air. It was less angry and more hopeful.

Noa: It was empowering!

Do you trust your leaders are going to commit to the change you’re asking for?
Océanne: We actually have a manifesto. Through that, we hope to show world leaders how concrete the youth’s perspective on climate change is, and how much of a difference we really want to make. Some people will always be unreachable though, or unable to understand, but I do think we can make a difference.

Brian, “about to turn 73”, Glasgow

Why are you here?
I’m here for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Never in my life have I voted Green, but if everyone voted for them, then the politicians would be panicking! That’s what we need. I think the people in power are just in it for the money. It’s the youth that is going to make the change that needs to happen.

Have you ever seen your city like this before?
This is the biggest movement I’ve seen in my city in a long time. It’s just incredible! You kids need to keep on doing what you’re doing.

Leon, 8, Scotland

What does your sign say?
We are the future.”

What do you do to help the planet?
Well, I’m vegan. Or at least I try to be! Today I’ve had a lot of non-vegan things just because of Halloween and it’s really hard to stick to it!

Delee Nikal, Wet’suwet’en territories, an indigenous nation in “so-called Canada”

Why are you here today?
I’m here with an indigenous youth delegation because our lands are under attack through resource extraction and colonial capitalism in general. Most of our territories are unseated – we’re sovereign states, which means we’ve never signed treaties or agreements with the crown, so they have no right to be taking any of our resources. This has become incredibly problematic. I guess [it’s] an epidemic of land theft. That’s what Canada exists on: stolen land.

What are the environmental effects of resource extraction?
It pollutes our rivers while putting our food sources, medicine and culture at risk. We just had our war trail ripped up by a pipeline, going through thousand-year-old graves. With these projects come man camps, which are more of a threat to indigenous women in particular, due to leniency in the so-called justice system and towards those who perpetrate crimes against indigenous women. I live on the Highway of Tears and I’ve seen a number of my cousins go missing in these territories. We’re here to speak on those issues.

What do you hope will come from COP26?
Do I think anything is going to come from a bunch of rich politicians sitting around? No, probably not. But fingers crossed [raising] awareness of events outside COP26 brings action.

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