Climate negotiations at COP26 in Glasgow are coming to a close. It’s been an intense fortnight of work with colleagues from the Lutheran World Federation, a range of ecumenical friends, and providing photos for UK periodical Church Times.
It’s been two weeks of hard work, of frustration and disappointment, as much of what we need in order to address the climate emergency remains to be done.
But what stays with me are also many of the small moments, the quirky and sometimes unexpected ones, the humane moments, and moments of people simply taking the time to be people.
There was the group of young children shouting with their feeble voices ’Stop climate change. Stop climate change’ on the streets of Glasgow, and the thousands in the crowd walking by bursting out in cheer for how the little ones are speaking up for themselves.
There was the sign-language interpreter who helped interpret the words of Greta Thunberg as she called out COP26 as a forum apparently incapable of real, adequate action for climate justice.
There was the indigenous woman who saw a member of the Red Rebels burst into tears, and who took the time to embrace and comfort her.
There were the many generations of people marching together in a Climate Strike on 5 November, taking a stand together for a better future.
There was the little dinosaur who arrived at George Square during an interfaith vigil, declaring as a reminder to humans around it: ’My extinction was not a choice but your is!!!’
There was Jane from Scotland, who I first met while she participated in the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, who closed her eyes in prayer at a vigil outside the conference venue.
There were the youth who maintained despite the challenges ahead, that ’our hope is greater than our despair.’
There was the woman singing and wearing a ‘coat of hopes’, a piece of clothing that travelled the length of the British Isles in the lead-up to COP26, carried on the shoulders of many pilgrims, and sewn into which were hundreds of prayers and ’hopes, of a people for their land’.
There was the woman staring in genuine surprise at the police officer as they discussed how a climate march could or could not move through the streets of Glasgow.
There was the archbishop and the imam who paused together on the streets of Glasgow to show their unity in the work that lies ahead.
There was the live-streamed image of French president Emmanuel Macron being broadcast in the corner of a booth in the media centre, seemingly watched only by a printer.
There were the women who reminded us of the impact not only of transport or overconsumption on the climate, but also aspects of militarism as an emitter of greenhouse gases.
There was the young girl who worked hard to carry a large banner that she had painted with her friends in support of the animals, reading ’It’s their planet too.’
There was the short declaration remaining outside the windows of an apartment in Glasgow city centre, reading ’All talk. No Action.’
And there were the Red Rebels who stood poised by the fence surrounding COP26 on the last planned day of negotiations — almost like a monument — as police officers and conference security guarded turnstiles by the venue’s entrance.
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