COP26 - Less Than a Week Away
By Keith Melton
COP26 - Less Than a Week Away
Excitement - Or Concern (And Trepidation!)
As we get closer to COP26, I feel both a sense of excitement that this major global conference is about to happen, in our backyard, as it were … and a real sense of concern and disappointment that we are going to be let down again by an incompetent and bungling Government. Not to mention trepidation at the threat of strike action by rail and bus employees!
The excitement is generated by the fact that I shall actually BE there in Glasgow. My wife, Fatima, and I, are taking our caravan to Strathclyde Country Park for just over a week from Tuesday 2nd November, including the middle weekend, so we`ll be at the heart of the Global Day of Action which will take place on Saturday 6th November. The trepidation is based upon the possibility that we will end up stuck at the Strathclyde Country Park, unable to get into town!
But the Global Day of Action will be happening near YOU as well, so please get involved. The COP26Coalition is organising a "… decentralised mass mobilisations across the world." So please check the website https://cop26coalition.org/gda/ to see where you can join a local march and carry a Green Liberal Democrat banner or placard (more on placards later)
My concern is based upon the record of incompetence of this current government and, frankly, the bare-faced lies of our Prime Minister and his chums. You only have to look the hashtag #sewage up on twitter (trending number 3 as I write this!) to see that Johnson`s promises that a post-Brexit Conservative government would maintain European environmental standards were just words without substance.
The Government has not closed off the option to open a NEW coal mine in Cumbria. The Government has not ceased the sale of licences to search for and mine for oil and gas under the North Sea even though we know that the earth`s carbon budget is already a busted flush. This Conference of the Parties - COP26 - should be the meeting that doubles down on the action promised in Paris six years ago. But, as Greta Thunberg says it is all "Blah. Blah, Blah."
I am also more than a little concerned that our own party seems not to have woken up entirely, yet, to the possibility of us taking a leading moral position on this topic. Surely we should be trying to ensure that the combined federal efforts of all of our paid staff are devoted to this one issue where we can claim some longevity of action. That has not yet happened, but we do have a week to turn this round!
At least we can now say that 100% of our Green Liberal Democrat professional staff is working on COP26. Francis Thomas, our new GLD Intern joined us only last week, and has been plunged into the deep end of drawing together all the loose voluntary strands of our proposed action.
One thing we have done is to set up a WhatsApp Group for all Lib Dem attendees to COP26 - so, if you are going to be in Glasgow please let me know and we`ll send you a link to join the WA group (email: email@example.com) We will be organising as much outward communications as we can, including a Daily Diary for COP26, which we will put out on Facebook and via the website. We`d like as many contributions as possible and our new intern, Francis, will be coordinating - so please link directly with him - firstname.lastname@example.org
We are also hoping to organise a modest social gathering whilst in Glasgow as well (indeed, there may be more than one once we know who will be there and when!)
So … What can WE do?
I suppose the answer to this question depends rather on whether you are a "cup half full" person or a "cup half empty" person. Anyone who knows me will confirm that I am on the "half full" side of the argument, but even I find the prospect of changing the world somewhat daunting! Nevertheless, we have to try - and when the biggest environmental conference ever comes to your own backyard - we have to try that little bit harder.
Global Conferences have previously tended to work on the basis of who can you mix with at the conference who might nudge the dial just a little bit more. However, the change to largely virtual meeting that has had to take place across the world, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, seems to have changed the narrative. There has been an acceptance that a large proportion of our Global Civil Society, who might previously have contemplated visiting Glasgow to undertake a little "dial-nudging", has perhaps accepted that the task may have to be conducted over the internet.
There has been an acknowledgement that, globally, we can create more change with effective virtual communication, using Facebook and Twitter and Blogging and Instagram and goodness-knows-what-else.
The same applies to ourselves, as Green Liberal Democrats. The success of our 2020 Green Festival of Events, with 16 days of Zoom based meetings and other events, has led us to believe that, with effective pre-conference planning we can move that dial. If we are to do that seriously, we need to break through the reticence of our political colleagues around the country to become involved in public-facing activity along with others.
As a Party, the Liberal Democrats WERE effective at getting our members out on the streets for the "Bollox to Brexit" marches a couple of years ago. Since the scale of the Climate Change problem well outweighs the scale even of the impact of us leaving the EU (it is, after all, an existential problem - if we lose THIS argument, we genuinely ARE stuffed. There IS no Planet "B"!) we ought to be able to sway solid Liberal Activists that we have a duty to take to the streets.
Global Day of Action - Green Lib Dem Placards
I have already referred you to the Global Day of Action with a link above. Here is the link again - https://cop26coalition.org/gda/ - so let me repeat my invitation to check this website out. It will tell you where your nearest march will be on the middle weekend of the COP26 conference - Saturday 6th November.
I am sure some of you will remember with some fondness that many GLD placards we prepared for the "Bollox to Brexit" marches. They made a significant impact visually as we were marching, and they featured in many local and national media pictures as stand-out messages. We hope to do that again and the final artwork will appear below when it is ready. We will be making them available as posters you can order for YOUR local activity. And, if the posters themselves run out we can provide you with the artwork, so you can get some printed yourselves locally. We will be recommending the right weight of paper to make them easy to assemble and stay effective.
We will also be keeping you up to date with COP26 events going on in Glasgow as seen from our position as visitors to the Merchant City, the UK`s first City of Culture back in 1990. We will be writing a diary of GLD activism throughout the 12 days of the conference - ranging from insights to what is going on in the main delegate`s BLUE Zone, as well as reporting from many of the events happening in the Civil Society GREEN Zone. We hope and intend to make you feel as though you are there as well. There will be Tweets you can share and retweet; Facebook stories you can make your own; Blogs on the website giving you a fuller picture than you will get from the TV. And we intend to send you pictures, as many as we can manage to post on Instagram.
Let me leave you with a quote from the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres - "The Climate Emergency is the defining issue of our time". So, colleagues, it has to be the defining issue of YOUR time for the next few weeks of political activity. Don`t let us down!