Will COP26 amount to the change we need to limit global temperatures to 1.5°C? In a years time, how will its legacy begin to shape up? Mixed emotions surround the 26th UN Conference of the Parties (31 October – 12 November). While many see this as yet another opportunity to cement global commitments to tackling our climate crisis, an almost certainly greater number view it with disdain and hopelessness. Can we tackle a crisis when our governments are adverse to systemic change and the primary sponsers behind our climate negotiotions continue to be some of the biggest energy, tech and consumer goods companies (including Microsoft, Scottish Power and Unilever)? Are the right people at the helm of these discussions or will it be an opportunity for governments to show that they truly mean business? The questions for COP go on.
And in amongst all this, even Glasgow itself is under tension. Bin collectors striking, major road closures causing mass upset and hundreds of hospital appointments cancelled during the week. With the eyes of the world on Scotland, there is a lot of pressure to deliver meaningful negotiations. And you can be a part of that. From big city marches to local events, from clothes swaps to mass cycle rides, there is plenty on.
Engaging with grassroots action is a social and political demonstration of solidarity and urgency. As an individiual it is a powerful and inspiring experience. There are activist pilgrimages walking 500km from London to Glasgow, 1000km from Spain to Glasgow and even a man walking in a metal ball from Germay to Glasgow. If that is not dedication to the cause, I do not know what is. But the main event to attend is the Global Day of Action organised by the COP16 Coalition.
It really is Global. With countries as far as Argentina, Cuba, South Korea, Australia, Turkey, Uganda, Kenya, and many more taking part. In Glasgow, the action begins at 12.45pm at Kelvingrove Park, with the rally fro, 3-4pm. If Glasgow is a little too far, People Learning About Nature Tayport (PLANT) are organizing a visioning workshop on the 6 November from 1 to 5pm in Gregory Hall. And if you are feeling up for the challenge, there is mass cycle ride from Edinburgh to Glasgow leaving at 8am. The event, Pedal on COP26, is intended to be a political act in its own right and is not meant to get people to Glasgow in time for the action there.
We, at Transition, are not running an event here in St Andrews for the Global Day of Action but instead engaging with actions elsewhere. We will be however, running three events over the COP26 fortnight. Whichever you can make, we look forward to seeing you there!
COP26 Clothing Swap & Sale // 12-5pm // Wednesday 3 November // 601, The Union, St Andrews
COP26 is organized around the Presidency Programme‘s themes over across the fortnight. Gender is the theme for Tuesday 9 November. And while we are hosting this event almost a week early, we want to highlight the gender-based violations behind the fast fashion industry and the need for fairer and more diverse gender leadership at our climate negotiations. Your fashion doesn’t need to cost the planet or the people that make it.
For this event, we are collaborating with the the Environment Subcommittee and Sustainable Style. All proceeds will be donated to the Equality Network, a Scottish charity working for LGBT+ equality and human rights.
Living the Active Way Festival // 12-4pm // Wednesday 10 November // Church Square, St Andrews
From secondhand fashion to active travel, our second event is the Living the Active Way Festival. Wedensday 10 November at COP26 is all about transport. How we choose to travel has a massive impact on the health of both people and planet. And driving the footprint of the transport sector down to zero emissions is a must.
At the festival, hosted in the heart of St Andrews’ town centre, we will be running practical demonstrations and activities all about active travel. We can envision a town where cars are no longer the primary way to get about. Where we see cycling, walking, scooting and skateboarding more than cars and buses. Can you?
When communities like ours takes initiative in travelling more actively, we show governments that these are changes we are ready for.
Edible Campus Autumn Cook Up // 12.30 – 2.30pm // Friday 12 November // St Andrews Kinburn Tennis Club
Marking the closure of the conference in Glasgow on the 12 November, we will also be marking the end of the autumn growing season in Scotland. Our final event of the COP26 fortnight is a lunchtime open fire cook up at the local tennis club. Food will always be something that can connect people and with nature. Growing it can only enhance this further.
Vegetables will be harvested from many of our community gardens and the allotments at the tennis club. What we cook up depends on what we harvest! So come along and join us for lunch, and share your reflections on COP26.
While we would love to see you and the events we have on, it is also great to see that so many other groups are running events as well. To see what else is head through to the University of St Andrews website for more.