On the streets of Glasgow – my COP26 highlights

On the streets of Glasgow – my COP26 highlights

By: Ludovico Caminati Engström
Date: 1 December 2021
Campaigns: Climate, Youth

Together with almost 20 activists from the Stirling group we joined three days of protests against the “Global North greenwash festival” as described by Greta Thunberg, often referred to as COP26. We were all excited to meet the rest of the youth network that had come up to Glasgow from various parts of the island: London, Bristol, Brighton, Nottingham…. The energy of the group was through the roof, as we were about to witness something special for humanity, something that will stay in the books long after we are all gone.

Once arrived in Glasgow we headed directly to the Global Justice Now hub, to meet all the other campaigners as well as to make some placards for the Fridays For Future march that was about to start in Kelvingrove Park. The march was stunning, featuring tens of thousands of participants diverse in age, provenance, and group. What surprised me was the overall celebratory mood of the march, everyone was chanting, dancing, and chatting to the stranger next to them. It felt like it was our moment, and no one could take that away from us.

On Saturday the Global Day of Action took place, which saw 100,000 people marching towards Glasgow Green park. Despite the constant rain, the streets of Glasgow were flooded with people. I talked to various people and groups throughout the march, groups from Italy, Spain, and Belgium. The Italian environmental group, Legambiente, had arrived that same morning with the bus from Italy. It was very interesting to meet like-minded compatriots committed to fighting climate change who came all the way up to Scotland. It warmed my heart.

Sunday was beyond doubt the most exciting protest. Together with the Free West Papua Campaign, we organised the march to call for an end to climate colonialism. The route was planned so that we would stop at the doors of targeted corporations that are the main players in modern-day climate colonialism. Once we left Barclays, the starting point of the protest, the police presence rapidly increased, to the point that we had a police helicopter monitoring us. Despite the high tension ignited by the police, the protest remained peaceful and cheerful, accompanied by brilliant speeches by MP Nadia Whittome, and Raki AP, spokesperson for the Free West Papua Campaign.

The situation escalated when we arrived in front of the JP Morgan HQ to find over 40 police officers were barricaded in front of the entrance with fences. Disproportionate to say the least, bearing in mind that the entire protest was peaceful. The best highlight of the protest was when we walked past JP Morgan in front of all the police officers shouting ”Who do you serve? Who do you protect?” Unfortunately, the march ended before it was supposed to due to the threats of the police to contain and then arrest us all. After negotiations, we marched back to Barclays where we listened to some more inspirational speeches, such as Larissa Kennedy, National Union of Students president.

The one key takeaway from this amazing weekend of protests is that sooner or later we will achieve climate justice, I am convinced, and so were the other 1000,000 people marching with me. When you are in such a big crowd, you cannot but feel hope and empowerment. So, if you feel betrayed, hopeless, angry, my advice is: join a protest. The amount of energy I have gathered in these three days, will get me going at least until the next COP. Protesting is not only fun, it’s cathartic too. Give it a try! Join our movement.

About the youth network

Top photo: Maddy Winters/Against the Grain Photography. Other photos: Ludovico Caminati Engström.