The Stirling Climate Festival held an open discussion with Dr Annalisa Savaresi and Amy Louise Smith on COP26 and how to protest safely.
Dr Savaresi is a Professor of International Environmental Law while Smith is an ex-university student union president, who now works for the Scottish Green Party as Co-Convener for the Scottish Young Greens.
Dr. Savaresi opened by talking about how the media has inflated most recent COPs with use of headlines such as “the last chance to save the planet”. She emphasized that COPs have been taking place since March 1995, in Berlin and that Glasgow is “about pushing states to do more”.
However, when discussing how countries would be made accountable for reaching their goal of net zero by 2050, Dr Savaresi said:
“I don’t think we really have a choice on net zero”.
Many countries have not been meeting targets, despite implementing framework for their targets.
The UK is a world leader in offshore wind farms and has also promised to quadruple the current capacity of 10GW by 2030.
There is nobody holding countries accountable for reaching net zero by 2050. This is where protestors and peer pressure come in. During the COP, Dr Savarasi said “everybody wants to look as good as they can” which will lead to ambitious plans to reach net zero. Lobbying and peer pressure from activists and other countries or states will help thrust these plans into effect.
There were some questions raised by the audience about the use of transport such as airplanes, boats and cars during the COP as attendees fly from all over the world. Dr. Savarasi said that the COP does need to work out how to be more online “especially for developing countries” and even that some had stopped coming altogether.
Amy Smith, who now works for the Scottish Greens, gave tips on how to protest safely and effectively. She made a list including; having allies (such as MPs or councillors), be clear in what you want to communicate, be realistic, do your research and find your mentors – people with similar goals or initiatives.
Smith said: “if you’re prepared to win, you probably will” and encouraged protestors to use her tips to build momentum up to a specific event by way of being organised, educated and in touch with the press.
She also highlighted the importance of “resist, rest, repeat” as taking care of yourself is the best way to ensure you can keep fighting for the change you want to see.
The crowd was tipped towards organisation SCALP as they offer legal observation training. The issue of when you should and shouldn’t respond to police officers has been hot recently, this was encouraged by Smith saying, “take videos” and “know your rights”.
Visit the SCALP website here to learn about your rights while campaigning: Scottish Community & Activist Legal Project – Supporting communitites and activitists on police and the law. (scottishactivistlegalproject.co.uk)
Feature image credit: Mairi Whittle