“For the activist, the legal ramifications of their actions are no longer proportional to the dire consequences of failure. Such is the importance of decarbonization.”
The reasons why climate activists become active get lost. Wanstead Climate Action’s reasons to travel to Glasgow and protest at COP26 are multiple and self-evident.
While the last 18 months has seen the government say all the right things, their actions have been contrary: investing in a new coal mine in Cumbria and licensing the Cambo oil field exploration as well as reducing tax on internal flights.
The march began at Buchanan Galleries. The de facto leaders include an ex- British Airways pilot and the ever-present figure of the shaggy bearded activist known as George. Their message is clear and stated with great authority: Greenwashing will not be endured. The drums sound and the long walk begins.
Movement is quickly interrupted as the planned route along the pedestrianised shopping street is blocked by the police to prevent the protest reaching the doors of COP26.
The day continues in this manner, the protesters move in the direction of the Blue Zone and the police bar the way.
Finally, the marching crowd arrives at the Royal Bank of Scotland only a short hop from where it began, mostly by chance. Here hours tick away but the sandwiched protestors are no less energised as the police pin them in from both sides of St Vincent Street.
The energy levels ember gently and George rises again. He speaks on greenwashing, the theme of the day, and the banks’ role in funding fossil greed. Greenwashing is an ugly PR practice by corporations, inflating their sustainable credentials. The crowd is galvanised despite being kettled for four hours without food, water, or facilities.
And as the sun sets on a chilly autumnal Glasgow there is a palpable feeling of hope. Hope because the activist cannot be ignored. Hope because young people like George will not be tolerant or idle in the face of injustice, greed, and tyranny.