ActForEaling at COP26

ActForEaling attended the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow on 11 November 2021. Here are our reflections of the experience:

ActForEaling’s exhibition stall at the Green Zone of the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow involved a long day of hard work, but on reflection was definitely worth it!

We were lucky that our application for a one day stall had been successful. Each day of the conference had a theme, and we were allocated ‘local government day’ which meant a chance to see what was going on in other areas of the UK.

The day started very early, as our instructions were to arrive and be through security by 7.30am. The shuttle bus from the train station and the entry procedures were fairly smooth, although to protect the international VIPs there was a long walk from the drop off point. One dramatic moment was leaving the poster tube behind at the security desk and then being chased by a running security guard trying to return it! Then there was the small matter of some confiscated scissors….

We started getting interest in the stall before we had even set it up; with delegates from other stands coming to see what we were about. As the day progressed visitors from outside also came in. We spoke to Scottish Councils, University Departments, Schools projects, Pension managers, Data engineers, Local Government Associations, business organisations and many, many more including visitors from other parts of the world.

All were interested in what challenges we face as a community in taking climate action; and all had thought about how to make changes in their own areas. A real positive theme for the day was a determination to work together for change, at every level, and an energy around cooperation and sharing ideas. Slightly surprisingly, quite a few people we met were from Ealing or had an Ealing connection- the ActForEaling name had drawn them to us to find out more.

The rest of the Green Zone was smaller than expected, with a large corporate area set up by the partner companies, and then perhaps twenty stalls our size. We’d all expected more, but in hindsight the focus was rightly on the key decisions happening in the Blue Zone. We were right next to the live feed – but barely got time to listen in!

Overall it was great experience, on a personal level to be a small part of something so important. Preparing to go had made some of the things ActForEaling had planned go faster, so we could share them in Glasgow, and gave us so many new connections and ideas to explore- we’re slowly working our way through it all now! There was a tinge of sadness that the international agreements were not what was hoped for. But we boarded our trains home with a strong sense that the people want change and are working for that on every level.

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