Far more important, arguably, than what will be discussed and decided by world leaders and delegates in the COP 26 climate conference itself — almost certainly very little — is what the environmental and labour movements make of this opportunity. The event provides an impetus and focal point for environmental activism to reboot post-lockdowns, in a world where the severity of environmental devastation is increasingly hard to hide from.
Friday 22 October will be a Youth Climate Strike, Friday 5 November will be a “Workers’ Mobilisation day” around the country, Saturday 6 a “Global day of action for climate justice” with “decentralised mass mobilisations”, Sunday 7 until Wednesday 10 November the “People’s summit for climate justice” in-person in Glasgow and online over video-calls. The big day will be Saturday. There will be a big demonstration in Glasgow, regional demonstrations in London, Cardiff, Newcastle, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Cambridge, Bristol, Brighton and beyond. From most or all of these locations, there will be coaches going to Glasgow too. Demonstrations are being organised around the world too, from Amsterdam to Istanbul to Sydney.
The relative emphasis for activists far from Glasgow on their local regional demonstration against building for coaches to Glasgow varies from place to place.
In Bristol, the main emphasis of the local “COP 26 Coalition hub” and most class-struggle environmentalists here is on building our local demonstration, although some are going to Glasgow. XR’s decentralised and undemocratic organisational methods means that the local group has made no decision on our priority, instead splintering depending on individual preferences, with a sizeable number going to each. Covid, and uncertainty over its likely development in the coming weeks, may further confound predictions.
The emphasis also depends on the situation of individual activists. Neither one large demonstration, nor even one flurry of simultaneous large demonstrations, will deliver the needed changes. Instead, the demonstrations and organising for them need to contribute to wider and longer term organising — in workplaces and beyond — over the environment.
Organising a coach, aiming to fill a number of seats on that coach, mobilising to fill those seats, and travelling in a delegation to an important demonstration — all this can help build organisation, numbers, and confidence of class struggle environmentalists. In Newcastle, closer to Glasgow than Bristol, the Unison local government branch has voted to contribute towards coaches travelling to Glasgow; workplace activists will be having conversations and organising to fill those seats.
Workplace and student activists elsewhere should consider similar approaches to Newcastle’s, or building for or organising a union or university bloc at your local demonstration. Successes from the day can be built upon for future workplace environmental activism.
Workers’ Liberty will be organising a delegation to converge on Glasgow for the “People’s summit for climate justice”, where we are helping to organise two meetings: one hybrid in-person, one purely over zoom.
We will be raising the importance of a class struggle approach, the necessity socialist working-class environmental politics.
For 22 October and 5 November youth climate strikes — the latter with a “workers’ mobilisation” emphasis — try to find out what is planned locally, take the time off work, even take down a delegation from work or university. If this isn’t viable, and particularly for the latter day, consider organising a brief demonstration delegation, a stall, a photoshoot, or similar at work at lunchtime.