2007 - 2021

COP26 Resistance Report 1: Fear and rain in Glasgow and Uganda

Glasgow awoke today to the constant thrum of helicopters, fearful and hopeful about what the coming days will bring.

Since the first Congress of the Parties in 1995, global emissions have increased by around 60%. If the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for different results, we must ask if there are any options other than global resistance to this system left.

Delegates arrive in a city experiencing unprecedented levels of policing and surveillance in response to a burgeoning environmental justice movement; the fear of what is to come is palpable. Many arrived late due to extreme weather, which Britain’s threadbare infrastructure was never designed to withstand.

On getting here, delegates have found a COP at which the clamour of protest and the general revolt of the earth’s life support systems has become too pervasive to ignore.

Or, to put in another way, this could be the moment that the empires strike back. The conference venue itself sits atop what was once the preeminent dock for exporting the carbon economy to every corner of the planet.

In this place, at this point in time, the contradictions of global fossil capital ought to be obvious, yet the great chasm between rhetoric and meaningful action is defined precisely by the gap between the rich and poor nations, between the urge to hoard rather than redistribute; to exploit rather than cooperate.

It’s fitting therefore that the first response to Bella Caledonia’s call for correspondents from the Global South comes from Uganda. If there’s a way out of this crisis, it must be not just to give voice to those with the least who will suffer the most, but to empower them too.

Every time it rains in my country, it floods. 

People get hurt. Houses are destroyed. Children can’t go to school. 

Growing up, I was one of those children that couldn’t go to school because of the floods. I stayed home to help look after my asthmatic mother, and I was only twelve years old when the rain destroyed my mother’s shop in Kampala, my family’s main source of income.

 I have grown up experiencing first-hand the effects of climate change and no one should have to go through what we, in Uganda, have gone through and still go through. 

My name is Patience Nabakalu. I am a climate activist from Uganda and am a member of Fridays for Future Uganda and Fridays for Future Mapa. As an activist, I am especially passionate about wetland restoration and conservation.

Wetlands play a significant role in mitigating the effects of climate change and had those wetlands been there, so much difficulty and disruption would have been avoided. If the wetlands had not been degraded, my mother’s shop would still be there, and I would not have had to miss school. 

Across Africa and the Global South at large, there have been floods, wildfires, heatwaves, severe droughts, and more. This is our reality. 

Africa is suffering. Our people are suffering. We need serious action. World leaders need to turn their words – their empty promises – into action.

The need for solutions to this issue are long overdue. They are doing nothing for Africa and people in the Global South. For them, it is about grandstanding. About power plays and money.

 Africa is responsible for less than 5% of the total global emissions, but we are more vulnerable to the effects of climate disasters than any other continent. We are the ones hit hardest by the climate crisis, yet we do the least. It is not right. Here in Africa, our voices are not heard.

There is no coverage or media showing what we are dealing with. Rather, Uganda is known as a dumping site for all unwanted waste from developed countries. We want to voice our concerns; we want to be heard. And yet, all we can hear is static. The white noise of empty promises and pledges to do this and that by 2050. What about now? What about 2021? 

As the world prepares for COP26, we must critically examine how Africa and the Global South are affected. This is an opportunity to change our tactics. To prioritize the unprioritized.

We need COP to reach out to embassies across the world to inform people applying about getting COP badges. We must give those who have had their voices muted by the static of politics and denial a platform. We must amplify the voices of those who have experienced the effects of this crisis first hand. 

This battle is far from over, but this year presents an opportunity. An opportunity to do things differently. An opportunity to do the things we’re promising now. An opportunity to hold out a microphone to those whose voices matter most – to those who dread the rain.

Patience Nabukalu @patienceNabz

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Illustration by Lindsay Grime.

Comments (7)

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  1. Squigglypen says:

    And the monsters we call world leaders will merely ignore all and go on their well heeled way grinning and waving to all and sundry.

  2. Robbie says:

    Exactly Squiggley ,expect to see anew oilfield and a new coalfield in Cumbria up and running next year.

    1. Dougie Harrison says:

      Much tae my surprise, I read today that Boris is agin the Cumbria proposal. Whae’d hae guessed?

      1. Tom Ultuous says:

        He was interviewed on BBC news by a guy I had never seen before. The guy asked him how he could expect China to cut their use of coal when he was opening a mine in Cumbria. He came away with the usual blah blah but the journalist stuck to it and accused him of “weasely words”. The clown looked quite taken aback and started backtracking on the mine. I don’t know if he’s had a change of heart but he wasn’t against it before that interview. If the journalist worked for the BBC (maybe he was a foreign journalist) I doubt we’ll see much more of him.

  3. Mons Meg says:

    The Sainted Žižek isn’t performing at the COP26 spectacular, but here he is inaugurating the Käte Hamburger Centre for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies at Heidelberg University. Bear with him: his opening remarks are in German, but the lecture itself is in English.


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