On The Ground At COP26

What is the mood at the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow? We went to find out...
08 November 2021

Interview with 

Verner Viisainen, The Naked Scientists


glasgow city


The COP26 conference represents a critical moment in the fight against climate change as it represents the first key checkpoint on progress since the Paris Agreement in 2015 . It’s also shining the international spotlight on the city of Glasgow, where the conference is taking place over the first two weeks of November, with thousands of delegates and activists converging on the city. Our own Verner Viisainen is among them...

Verner - I've just arrived in Glasgow central station for COP26. I'm walking through the central station. It's quite a grand old building with steel beams along the ceiling and COP26 banners hanging down. It's very clear that this is the city of COP. There's a real sense of buzz in the air. I'm excited to see what else I can find in Glasgow. I think the first place I'll head to is the blue zone, which is the official zone where the negotiations are taking place. Standing here outside the COP26 gates is quite a jarring site. Huge metal fences are barricaded all around the venue. There's no way in unless you have an official badge. There are police patrolling everywhere at every corner. This is where all the negotiations over the next two weeks are taking place with delegates from every country in the world. Every day of the conference has a particular theme that they're negotiating on. The protestors are just starting and they're playing some music on drums and starting to make noise.

Tom Goldtooth (Indigenous speaker) - We have gathered here as indigenous peoples and I can say there's representation here from all over the world. We want to share with you a message. Carbon offsetting is tearing us apart. Carbon offsetting gives polluters an excuse to keep polluting. It needs to stop now. We need real reduction, real solutions, we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Ruth Miller (Indigenous speaker) - We in the Arctic are experiencing the climate crisis at two to four times the rate as the rest of the world. When I come here to the COP, I am not only carrying myself, I am carrying my people to bring our truth to the table. Yet we are constantly ignored and silenced.

Minhahi Bastida Munoz (Indigenous speaker) - We are in a climate crisis. We lack this connection with nature. We need to come together. Remember who we are, why we are here, why we are here as human species. We came here to take care and get care of Mother Earth, not to take over. This is the time and the time is now all together we are stronger.

Verner - Wow, that was incredibly powerful. We have just been gathered here listening to indigenous people from all over the world making their voices heard. I'm standing on this beautiful bridge that goes across the River Clyde. On one side of the river is the main conference venue. On the other side of the bridge is the green zone, the publicly accessible zone to everyone and that's where I'm heading now. I can tell that I'm approaching the green zone because every sign around me is green. Greenery everywhere. The immediate thing you notice is that there is basically nobody here. The green zone is deserted, at least at the entrance. Now it's very clear why there are not many people here. I tried to enter and the lovely lady at the door said all the events are only for people who have pre-booked for a particular event, so I was rejected from the one publicly available zone of the COP26 conference. I met these two lovely individuals who were handing out leaflets and I decided to speak to them. How has Glasgow changed during these two weeks?

Arion (local resident) - There's a lot more people.

Niamh (local resident) - I think the increased security presence has been quite dark. As someone who's here all the time obviously, it's like 'oh, I'm just going to Tesco' and then 'oh, there are three dozen police officers. Oh no!' But apart from that I feel an increased energy in the city because everyone has just obviously been gearing up for this for months. Then for it to finally happen, it's just almost like this massive wave of feelings and it's good. It's good. High energy. Yeah.


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