Contributed by Jim Hayes
As the COP 26 gathering of heads of state proved to be a farce that led to almost no new action on climate change, others organised to make their mark. Over two hundred events were reported to have taken place around the world. Half of them in the United Kingdom. Not surprisingly, the biggest were in Glasgow, where marches on Friday and the weekend attracted up to 100,000 people. They braved the wind and rain to create the biggest marches in the city’s history.
Despite this, the media reporting about it was dismal. Compare this to the upbeat reports that the political leaders meeting in isolation about the progress they claimed. Media organisations are playing the game of sowing the illusion of action where there is no action.
One would be on the mark for suspecting that the pretence game is a recognition of public insistence on action. It has become politically impossible to deny climate warming and the need to do something about it.
The world knows that COP 26 has been a failure and there is no way to hide this.
Greta Thunberg rallies climate activists in Glasgow
Video from Guardian News
It was those who turned took part in what happened outside the official gathering who made a difference.
On Friday last week, a youth march of tens of thousands organised by Fridays for Future, was led by climate activist Greta Thunberg hit the streets. A key them was that a market led solution is no solution to the critical crisis, threatening environmental devastation and human catastrophe.
The day of action on Saturday 6 November, local time, was event bigger. It involved contingencies from unions, environment groups, and the community sector. Its purpose was to unite around the following common goals: Demand governments and corporations limit global temperatures to 1.5°C and deliver real and just solutions to the climate crisis.
Environmental activists hold Global Day of Action march in Glasgow
Video from Ruptly
No doubt an angry reaction to the failure of political leaders at COP 26 swelled the numbers on the streets. The impact extends sway beyond Glasgow The same political leaders have an enormous credibility deficit. They went home weakened, meaning that it will be harder than ever to sell their market led response.
The market ed response agreed to rely mostly on carbon trading, creating profit opportunities for investors in market driven projects, and providing government subsidies to corporations. It is the same failed approach of recent decades.
Any alternative will have to include major government intervention, aimed at adopting clean energy and changing the linkages through the economy. It will have to ensure that change creates jobs and doesn’t destroy them. A just transition requires that the livelihoods of ordinary people be protected. Building consensus requires ensuring ownership, consultation, and participation.
Pressure to change this continue will to mount. But this is still far from a won battle. The point is that it can still be won.