By Sam Ord
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26 reasons to protest at Cop26

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Issue 2777
Global climate strike protests in 2019
Global climate strike protests in 2019 (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, or Cop26, is just over two weeks away.

The conference will be a meeting point for world leaders and business owners to supposedly come up with a plan to save the planet from climate disaster.

But after 25 failed Cop climate conferences, we can expect false promises and more inaction.

This has real and deadly consequences and already ordinary people are paying the price of politicians’ lies.

This year across the world we have seen severe and frequent flooding, wildfires and drought.

Increasing numbers of people are displaced due to the changing climate or extreme weather events.

Now world leaders hope to use Cop26 to camouflage their climate failures.

The Cop26 coalition of environmental organisations, trade unions and other campaigns will take the streets of Glasgow on Saturday 6 November with an expected 50,000 protesters.

Many more demonstrations will hit towns and cities across Britain with organisers hoping the London demo will attract similar numbers.

On 5 November there will be a student strike and workplace actrions.

We must protest to demand a genuine climate strategy.

The movement needs to be widespread with militant demonstrations in every city and direct actions such as blocking roads, strikes and occupations.

We must rage against world leaders for their hand in the continuing destruction of the planet.

Achieving climate justice requires system change.

At Cop26 world leaders will continue to prioritise profits of fossil fuel companies and environmentally damaging businesses over people’s health.

There can be no more delays, we urgently need a system that leaves fossil fuels in the ground.

At Cop26 as world leaders plot to protect fossil fuel firms, we need to fight for a new system that makes decisions for people, not profit.

1. Bosses push us to the brink

Despite what the media and the politicians tell us our individual choices are not what is driving forward climate disaster.

In reality it is the bosses that are pushing the whole planet to the brink of environmental destruction.

Just 100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 according to the Carbon Majors Report.

2. Leaders sit on their hands

A new report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that world leaders refusing to act will lead to irreversible climate chaos.

The report said that without significant reductions to greenhouse gas emissions now, it is likely that surface temperatures will surpass the 1.5 degree threshold.

World leaders were given the target of 1.5 degrees almost six years ago at Cop in Paris in 2015. But for six years almost nothing was done.

The latest IPCC report shows at the current rate, it is impossible for us to keep below that limit.

We must cut emissions now or face warming up to 3.1 degrees by 2100.

3. Bosses killing climate activists

The bosses and the government that prop them up are killing climate activists.

In 2020, 227 “environmental defenders” were killed, a record number for a second consecutive year.

The report from Global Witness said since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, on average four activists have been killed each week.

4. Unliveable conditions

Over one billion people could be forced to leave their homes due to climate change by 2050 predicts the Australian think tank, Institute for Economics and Peace. And this mass exodus has already begun. In 2020, 55 million people had been forced to relocate due to extreme weather events.

The number of climate refugees outnumbers those displaced by conflict and war.

5. Permafrost disappearing

Permafrost covers almost a quarter of land surface in the northern hemisphere. It stores nearly half of all carbon stored within the soil. As the permafrost melts it releases carbon into the atmosphere.

Permafrost temperatures increase at a faster rate than atmospheric temperatures. Arctic ground temperatures have risen around 2 degrees in 30 years.

6. War is deadly for the earth

The US military is a bigger polluter than 100 countries combined. It creates 750,000 tons of toxic waste every year.

Not only is war polluting but the US invaded Iraq in 2003 in the pursuit of oil.

Environmental destruction is a mechanism of warfare, from bombing dams to contaminating drinking water.

7. Pandemics more common

Covid-19 was able to spread to humans as a result of global warming and breaking down ecosystems.

Deforestation and the use of wildland for farming opened the door for disease to spread.

Also global temperature increase can lead to disease carrying animals, such as the mosquito to thrive in new areas.

8. Oceans poisoned

Our seas have become clogged with plastic.

Plastic production has increased rapidly, from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 448 million tons in 2015. Today’s production levels are expected to double by 2050.

This pollutes the water and fish we consume. One third of fish caught for human consumption contains micro-plastics.

9. Workers need climate jobs

To fight climate change we must fight to transform our economy and society into one fit for the future.

Calls to create one million green jobs must be supported and amplified. This includes fighting for green public transport expansion and transitioning workers from environmentally damaging jobs to green jobs.

10. Leaders knew about the crisis

Over half the carbon emissions that have ever been produced from the burning of fossil fuels have been produced since the Earth Summit in 1992.

This is despite attendees agreeing to reduce their gas emissions. A quarter of carbon emissions has been produced since Barak Obama’s presidency—with Joe Biden as vice-president—in January 2009.

11. The world is on fire

In Summer this year huge areas of Europe, North America and parts of Africa suffered wildfires. July was the worst month for wildfires since 2003.

As temperatures increase, plants and soil dry creating the perfect conditions for ignition.

The heat intensity from fires in Turkey was four times higher than the previous national record.

12. Nature is suffering

Humans rely on the natural resources biodiverse ecosystems provide such as water, pollination and medicine.

Ecosystems damaged by the extinction and reduction of plants and animals impact the security of those resources. A report from the World Wildlife Foundation discovered a 60 percent decline in the global wildlife population over just 40 years.

13. Indigenous people ignored

Indigenous land takes up approximately 22 percent of the total land. These areas contain 80 percent of global biodiversity.

Why Cop will fail the planet
Why Cop will fail the planet
  Read More

Many indigenous communities are fighting to protect their land from exploitative fossil fuel companies which in turn is a fight to protect us all.

But many of these people will be denied a seat at the table at Cop26.

Andrea Carmen, co-chair of the Facilitative Working Group for the Local Communities and Indigenous People’s Platform recently said, “Indigenous peoples lives are on the front lines of climate change and I am concerned that so few of us will be able to be at the table in Glasgow during negotiations.”

14. Even the air is toxic

Air pollution kills over 7 million people every year estimates The World Health Organisation (WHO).

Almost all of the world’s population breathes air that exceeds the WHO safety limit. This leads to higher rates of lung cancer, asthma and other illnesses.

Half of children in New Delhi, India suffer irreversible lung damage.

More than 8 million people died worldwide in 2018 from fossil fuel pollution, significantly higher than previous research had indicated.

Air pollution from burning fossil fuels such as coal and petrol that year was responsible for about one in six deaths worldwide.

This is according to research from a group of universities including Harvard.

15. More extreme weather events

The climate crisis is causing climate extremes from drought to floods and hurricanes to Tsunamis.

Hotter air and water worsens the frequency and intensity of hurricanes while also putting more pressure on water supplies during droughts.

In the US last year 47 people died as a result of hurricanes. In comparison 11 died ten years previously.

Droughts affect around 55 million people each year.

The intensity of droughts is rising, posing a serious threat to livestock and crops in nearly every part of the world.

Water scarcity already impacts 40 percent of the world’s population. By 2030, 700 million people could become displaced due to drought.

16. Market chaos causes damage

Banks continue to lend hundreds of billions of pounds to the fossil fuel industry.

The rich are getting richer from the destruction of the planet.

We must overturn the system where profits push fossil fuel companies to keep searching and exploiting finite fuel resources and fight for a system that prioritises people, not profit.

17. To stop fracking

Fossil fuel companies will stop at nothing to extract oil. Fracking not only increases the number of fossil fuels to be burnt but can contaminate water, pollute land and trigger earthquakes.

An investigation by Stanford scientists found that fracking polluted water used by people who live near Pavillion in Wyoming, US.

18. Keep coal in the ground

Coal is an incredibly dirty energy source but coal expansion continues as it’s considered more profitable than renewable energy.

Australia approved three coal mine extensions last month and China is building more coal plants.

But as coal supplies empty we must fight for alternative clean energies rather than more exploitative coal extractions.

19. CO2 level out of control

Carbon dioxide (CO2) atmospheric levels reached a high of 417 parts per million (ppm) from February to March this year. Pre-industrial CO2 levels were around 278 ppm.

Fossil fuel use is the primary driver of CO2 emissions.

Humans have increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by 48 percent since 1760.

20. Global south suffering

The climate crisis for many has already arrived. Those in the global south, with the smallest contribution to global emissions, will pay the largest price.

Extreme weather and climate change has already killed and displaced millions.

The system forces these countries to compete and divert investment from essential climate defence infrastructure.

21. More scorching summers

This year temperatures hit 54 degrees in large cities. This wasn’t exclusive to places near the equator.

Canada’s temperature peaked at 49.6 degrees, resulting in 486 deaths.

If carbon emissions double by 2050, temperatures would rise on average 2.4 degrees above pre-industrial levels creating more extreme heatwaves.

22. Overheating the planet

Capitalism has already caused 1.07 degrees of warming since 1850. 2016 to 2020 was the hottest five year period recorded since at least 1850.

This is already too warm and has melted 5,000 gigatons from ice sheets and approximately 85 percent of all documented natural disasters relate to increasing temperatures.

23. World’s trees destroyed

According to the World Bank from 1990 to 2016, the world lost 502,000 square miles of woodland.

Around 46 percent of trees have been lost to deforestation mainly driven by mass scale logging firms.

And about 17 percent of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed in just 50 years.

24. Sea levels will keep rising

Since 1900, sea levels have risen faster than in any preceding century.

Grenada’s minister for climate and environment, Simon Stiell, said the Cop26 climate summit is key for the “survival” of many island nations.

If warming is limited to 1.5 degrees the average sea level will still rise between two and three metres.

25. Huge amount of ice is melting

The loss of ice as a result of rising temperatures will greatly increase sea levels. But as the ice melts, it also accelerates warming.

The mass of ice reflects heat from the Sun back out of Earth’s atmosphere.

If we exceed 2 degrees of warming, Antarctica might lose its ice by 2060.

26. To disrupt their system

To save us from climate catastrophe we must smash apart the bosses’ system.

We need a better democratically planned way of running the world that puts working class people in charge. There can be no more useless conferences.

To protest against Cop should be to protest against a rotten capitalist system.

Join marches for climate action, Sat 6 Nov Glasgow 12 noon, Kelvingrove Park, London 12 noon, Bank of England. Other cities at

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