COP26 Glasgow – Climate Change and Climate Justice



The COP26 Coalition is calling for a Global Day of Action (GDA) on Saturday 6th November, during the middle weekend of the talks in Glasgow. It is crucial that we get people and voices out on the streets to show unity and send a message to those in power that we need climate action NOW!

What are they supposed to be deciding at COP26?

COP26 is the deadline for countries to present their plans to cut carbon emissions. Together, these plans need to set the world on track to stop global temperatures rising more than 1.5ºC by the end of the century. Despite being on the official agenda, these plans are very unlikely to be delivered.

The challenges of Climate Change that we face include rising sea levels and more extreme weather events, even on Arran, combined with loss of biodiversity; all are symptoms that our climate is breaking down. Destructive industries continue to threaten our forests, oceans and air. Our lifestyles must change and together we can overcome these challenges. Climate change also presents an opportunity to change the way we live so we improve things for us and the planet.

The effects of climate change are everywhere. Arctic and Antarctic ice is melting, leading to rising sea levels. The frequency and strength of storms is increasing, leaving destruction in their wake. And rainfall patterns are shifting, causing devastating droughts and floods. As our climate breaks down, billions of people are already struggling to cope and it is the poorest who are being hit hardest. Powerful cyclones have devastated the lives of millions of people in the Philippines. Forest fires in Russia and Europe have covered cities in thick polluting smoke. And closer to home, catastrophic floods have turned lives upside-down in Yorkshire, Somerset and Cumbria.

The most effective action to take as an individual is to urge leaders in business and government to stop global warming getting worse, as quickly as they possibly can.
Climate change needs to be slowed down urgently, because the effects of a warming climate on people and nature are already extremely serious.

Climate Justice is a term used to frame climate change as an ethical and political issue, rather than one that is purely environmental or physical in nature. It examines concepts such as equality, human rights, collective rights, and the historical responsibilities for climate change.

At Commission on Human Rights Conference in the Philippines


Forest destruction in Argentina

Who or what is most responsible for Climate Change?

No single person or group of people are to blame for climate change. But governments have more power than individuals to stop global warming getting worse. And some industries and countries currently contribute far more to the problem than others. For example, the UK and other countries in Europe, North America and Australasia are very wealthy countries, and wealthy people everywhere tend to emit more CO2 into the atmosphere through their lifestyles than poorer people. Per-person emissions are high in the UK compared to many places around the world. Plus, the UK has historical responsibility for the climate crisis that dates back to the Industrial Revolution. So, overall, rich countries, that includes us on Arran and in Scotland, have caused more global heating than poor countries. The recent stories of UK plastic waste being exported is a prime example of “out of sight, out of mind and responsibility”.

Activists Dump 625kg of Plastic Waste at Prime Minister’s Gate in London outside Downing Street June 2021, the same amount that the UK sends overseas every 30 seconds.


Waste Dump in Karahan, Adana Province, Turkey. Burning plastic waste from the UK

Many of the countries worst affected by climate change have contributed least to the emissions that cause it. If you look at the data on Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) emissions that are heating the planet, the richest 1% of the Earth’s population are responsible for more than the poorest 50%. Yet the poor are often the most likely to be affected by its most detrimental impacts. For example, farmland turning into desert and sea levels rises threatening homes: or extreme weather events like flash floods and wild fires. Few poorer countries have the resources to deal with these disasters. Climate Justice also means taking account of historical emissions. Over the last 250 years the USA and Europe have produced far more GHGs. The rich world has already accepted responsibility for these emissions but a promise to send $100 billion per year to developing countries by 2020 to help adapt to climate change and build greener economies for the future has not yet been met.

Indigenous Peoples Day Protest Washington Oct ‘21


 Arctic Sunrise Action in the Adriatic Sea Oct.’21

Climate Justice is not only numbers but people. School strikes and many people around the world have drawn attention to this, demanding that fair solutions are found between rich and poor. This means supporting the poorest countries and making sure they are not forced to take on huge amounts of debt, but also tackling inequality between people in richer societies. We have seen this in the last 10 years, for example, in the UK with so-called austerity. Whether it is about how we heat our homes or switch to electric cars, forcing change on people who cannot afford it, is not going to work. So, Governments are going to have to help people pay for the changes required.

A tax on carbon is one suggestion so people, and especially those companies that use the most, pay the most. Whatever happens, it is going to cost a lot less than acting too slowly to deal with global warming. There is good reason to believe a green revolution can create millions of new jobs around the world. But whether we look at the whole world, or just the Isle of Arran, the transition to a more sustainable economy and a more sustainable planet is only going to work if it is going to be fair.

What could get in the way of success at COP26?

Rules for carbon markets are also on the agenda for COP26. These complex discussions threaten to swamp the negotiations, leaving little room for more urgent agreements on climate finance and phasing out fossil fuels. Carbon markets should not become a distraction at COP26 in Glasgow. They often give countries and companies a “free pass” to pollute, through things like carbon offsetting. Instead, governments need to focus on making firm rules for companies to reduce emissions directly from their activities.
Carbon offsetting and climate justice

Then there is the issue of climate colonialism, which Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò defines as “the domination of less powerful countries and peoples by richer countries through initiatives meant to slow the pace of climate breakdown.” It is cheaper to set up offsetting projects in the Global South, which means that they may come at the cost of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, or they may be on land that would be better used for meeting local community needs. Carbon offsetting plans are essentially PR plans. Offsetting schemes provide a good story that allows companies to swerve away from taking meaningful action on their carbon emissions. Offset schemes also serve to make fossil fuels more palatable to increasingly eco-conscious consumers.

Jane Fonda wrote: “Today the climate crisis requires collective action on a scale that humanity has never accomplished, and in the face of those odds a sense of hopelessness may occasionally descend. But the antidote to that feeling is to do something. The question is what? Changing individual life style choices like giving up meat and getting rid of single use plastic won’t cut it when time is not on our side. We need to go faster. Instead of changing straws and lightbulbs, we need to focus on changing policy and politicians. We need large numbers of people working together for solutions that work for climate.”

There will be a flagship national demonstration in Glasgow and large-scale regional demonstrations in other major cities, and local and international demonstrations in towns across the UK and the world. Each UK demonstration will be timed to assemble at 12pm, start at 1pm and rally for speeches at 3pm.

All over the world, on Saturday 6 NOVEMBER there will be marches, rallies and vigils for CLIMATE CHANGE AND CLIMATE JUSTICE. On Arran we will meet for a rally on the promenade opposite the Douglas Hotel to start at 1pm SATURDAY 6 NOVEMBER. Do join us, with your posters, to add our voice to tell the politicians the time is for action, not more blah, blah, blah.

Sally Campbell
October 2021

Fonda, Jane (2020) What Can I Do? My path from Climate Despair to Action. Penguin Press
Greenpeace photos from around the world. Press centre | Greenpeace UK

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”

Leonard Cohen