As part of a global initiative tied in with COP26 local members of Extinction Rebellion, Woking Environment Action (WEAct), Friends of the Earth and the Green Party participated in events in Glasgow, London, and Horse Hill in Surrey on Sat 6 Nov.
COP26, the United Nations conference on climate change, was held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November. This conference is the global platform for building consensus on actions to tackle climate change, finding ways to limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5°C, and climate justice. People living in the poorest countries are experiencing the worst effects of climate change and yet they have done the least to cause the crisis.
In 2009, the world’s wealthiest countries, including the UK, agreed to give $100 billion a year in climate finance to the world’s poorest and most climate-vulnerable countries by 2020. This promise has not yet been fulfilled. The aim of this day, half-way through the conference, was to remind governments around the world about this promise and the need to tackle the global inequalities in wealth and power.
Glasgow, host to COP26, held its biggest protest so far during the conference. Laura, a youth worker from Woking, said: “It was so special to be one of an estimated 100,000 people, who came from all over the world, to unite for Glasgow’s March for Climate Justice”.
Thousands of protestors also marched in London from the Bank of England to a rally in Trafalgar Square, bringing together movements from across the country, including environment and development NGOs, trade unions, faith and youth groups, and migrant and racial justice networks.
Mary, from Woking, said: “While we all can do our bit individually, the key message for me from today is the need for change at the system level, change to be applied urgently but fairly across the world”.
Closer to home, there was a march and rally at the Horse Hill drill site in Horley. In September 2019, just 2 months after it had declared a climate emergency, Surrey County Council passed planning permission for four new oil wells and 20 years of fossil fuel production at the site.
The planning decision is being challenged on 16 November in the Appeal Court. This is a timely action in light of the International Energy Agency finding in May that all future fossil fuel projects must be scrapped now if the world is to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and to stand any chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C. This is also timely in that the appeal is scheduled 4 days after the end of COP26, which the UK government is hosting.
Gemma, a local business owner and mum from Woking, said: “It was great to take part in the march at Horse Hill today, not only to demand an end to fossil fuel extraction right here on our doorstep, but also in solidarity with people all over the world and to demand climate justice for those children and families already experiencing the devastating effects of climate breakdown”.