Glasgow, Scotland will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) on 1-12 November 2021. Its aim is to ‘accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’. Attendees are expected to be representatives of Parties to the Convention and Observer States, members of the press and media, and representatives of observer organisations. 1
Prior to the commencement of the conference proper, two events will take place:
1. The Youth Summit – ‘YOUTH4CLIMATE: Driving Ambition’ 2
- Held in Milan on 28-30 September 2021
- Its aim is to ‘offer young people from all over the world the opportunity to develop concrete
proposals for Pre-COP26 in Milan and COP26 in Glasgow’.
2. Pre-COP26 3
- Held in Milan on 30 September-2 October 2021
- Its aim is to ‘provide a selected group of countries with an informal setting to discuss and
exchange views on some key political aspects of the negotiations and offer political
guidance for subsequent negotiations’.
This year’s COP goals are: 4
1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
3. Mobilise finance
4. Work together to deliver
COP25 was held in Madrid, Spain in 2019 (after Brazil and Chile stepped down from hosting duties). Its aim was to finalise guidelines (‘Katowice rulebook’) governing the Paris Agreement of 2015. This was to establish rules on how governments implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). 5
The change of country and continent shortly prior to COP25 meant that a number of activists, who set sail across the Atlantic Ocean in the hope of travelling as carbon neutrally as possible to South America in advance of the conference, were late to the event having to sail back to Europe. Youth activist Greta Thunberg (Greta is now 18 years old) was amongst those caught up in the scramble back across the Atlantic but made the conference on time. Greta Thunberg delivered her speech ‘How dare you’ which received large press coverage. Those that could not make it back staged their own COP named ‘Forest COP’ in the Amazonian rainforest. 6
The conference drew protests Europe-wide with marches reported in Spain, Brussels, Paris and the UK (where access was blocked to Heathrow airport). 7
Youth climate activists were particularly prevalent in the COP25 protests. ‘Fridays for Future’ the global movement motivated after Greta Thunberg’s school strikes called for action in protest at the lack of movement by COP25 stating the summit ‘has failed us’. Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and President of Ireland, Mary Robinson stated,
“This is about people and people’s livelihoods. Gender and social justice have an enormous impact on what people face from climate [breakdown]. If we don’t have these issues included we are going to make enormous mistakes.” 8
‘Fridays for Future’ recorded 115,910 individuals conducting strikes in March 21, under their banner, in the March of 2019 this was significantly higher with 2,280,959. In November 19 this halved to 1,192,120. It is evitable youth climate activists will have a significantly high volume of individuals conducting demonstrations in the upcoming months. They will have a strong intent to influence the debates in the lead up to the COP26.
COP26 Potential Protests
XR Scotland are already making plans for protests in November stating:
Saturday 6th November, Glasgow and across the UK. The COP26 Coalition and their international allies are planning a decentralised day of action for Saturday 6th November, the middle weekend of COP26. As there are likely to be significant travel restrictions, we will show our movement’s strength and the need for urgent action for climate justice by coming together in our city, town or village across the world for a coordinated day of action.
Friends of the Earth are also planning action in advance.
Friends of the Earth have been working within the COP26 Coalition – an umbrella coalition made up of environmental and climate organisations, trade unions, racial and migrant justice networks, faith and youth groups – to help build momentum around COP26 and grow the climate justice movement. The Coalition is planning a series of moments building towards COP26 over the coming months, and during Climate Week in September.
A day of action for climate justice will take place on Saturday 6th November with protests in Glasgow, across the UK and around the world. From Sunday 7th to Wednesday 10th, there will also be a Peoples’ Summit with events and workshops organised by civil society groups. 9
News stories about police response and protestor behaviour at COP26:
Other useful websites:
This year’s location
Map of COP26 location (SEC Centre)
Map of Scotland