What’s it like being a member of the public at COP26? We caught up with our Social Media and Content Manager, Ellie Rowlands, after she spent a few days in Glasgow for COP26.
COP26 has been running for just over a week, and whilst the Blue Zone is invite only for delegates, COP26’s Green Zone is open to the general public and the whole city is alive with other events in support of climate action
Why did you decide to go to Glasgow?
I knew it was unlikely COP would ever be held in the UK again in my lifetime and I wanted the opportunity for my voice to be heard. We’ve all seen the impact that Fridays for Future and the Youth Climate marches have had on global awareness of climate change so when a friend offered me the chance to come and stay with her in Glasgow it was a no brainer.
What did you do whilst in Glasgow?
I joined the Climate Justice march which had been organised by COP26 coalition on Saturday. It was incredibly empowering to see 100,000 people, young and old, marching through the streets of Glasgow in the pouring rain demanding change. There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ climate advocate, people from different groups, nationalities, ages and genders were all unified by the desire to see action. As Greta says, there has been a lot of “blah blah blah” in the climate space so it was great to see the power of the collective to mobilise action and demand systematic change.
Although the official Blue Zone is for delegates only, the Green Zone, hosted at Glasgow Science Museum, is open to the general public. It has a whole programme of speeches, films and exhibits to explore. Although the events have officially sold out online, I was lucky enough to get a ticket on the door to the exhibits and some of the speeches, including a film about climate crimes from EnviroFest International shown in in the planetarium and talk on how nudge behaviour psychology may be able to encourage people to adopt more sustainable behaviours.
The Green Zone is well worth a visit, but, for me, the really powerful events happened outside the COP walls. The marches, protests and speeches which were happening all round the city were filled with hope, pride and possibility with a desire for real changes and fast action.
Having spent the last few weeks working on the Clean Power campaign with Together Band, it was fantastic to see the art installations in real life, lining the Glasgow canals and inspiring others to take action for a clean power revolution.
What was your favourite thing about COP?
The sense of community and the degree of hope that was felt by the power of people coming together. Also, the willingness of people to take action and make changes. I was fortunate enough to meet and talk to many people about the work we at Ripple are doing , facilitating individuals to have their own source of genuinely renewable power. It was incredibly motivating to see how interested people were in a different approach to energy and the opportunity to actually own their own source of clean, affordable power.
How can people get involved if they can’t make it to Glasgow?
There is so much going on virtually. All the events happening at the Green Zone with COP26 can be streamed live. There are also lots of other organisations running a variety of events which are well worth a watch. You can catch our founder and CEO talking to the team at Together Band on Thursday at The Landing Hub. The event will be available on YouTube after and will be live streamed on Together Band’s Instagram. I would also recommend the Extreme Hangout, it’s offering a whole programme of events, covering a huge range of themes. You can catch up on events from the last week or live stream the ones happening over the next few days.
What are your hopes for the remaining week of COP?
Action. Lots and lots of action. It’s been said a lot in the last few weeks, but this is our 26th COP focussed on addressing climate change yet carbon emissions have increased year on year without fail so now is the time for deep, systemic change. We at Ripple are empowering individuals to take ownership of their own renewable power generation but we need this to be supported by bold and clear leadership to accelerate the net zero agenda.