Strath Union COP26 Highlights

Including events and activities at the After the Pandemic Hub in the Union!

Youth activist holding banner saying Go Green or No Home

COP26 was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of climate action alongside negotiations happening on the world stage right here in our city. Glasgow had a variety of events promoting climate action happening across the city for the two weeks of the conference, and we also had our fair share of events happening at Strath Union thanks to After the Pandemic (ATP) and their efforts. Find out some of the highlights of the past two weeks in this piece:

We hosted and were part of some great events...

Strathclyde students protested alongside others for more action on the climate emergency:

Strath Union’s climate action group and more Strathclyde students joined both the Friday’s for Future march on November 5th and the Global Strike for Climate march the next day, protesting for more climate action alongside thousands of others.

People at climate march carrying banners

Eva Ralston - Captain, Strathclyde University Women’s Football Club, spoke at ATP’s ‘Kicking Off the Climate Conversation in Football’ panel: watch the panel HERE.

Ralston was part of a panel featuring Elliot Arthur Worsop (Founder, Football For Future), Chris Gaunt (Finance Director, Hibernian FC), Andy Smith (Chairman, Scottish Football Supporters Association), Norman Gill (Chief Operating Officer, Street Soccer), and Iain McMenemy (Chairman, Stenhousemuir FC). All together they discussed what fans, clubs and players should do to make football more sustainable.

During the panel, Ralston talked about the effects of the climate emergency that are already visible, as well as the popular sports power to influence society.

She said: "The game is under threat more than ever. Things like pitches being flooded, or playing in excessive heat in the summer is something no footballer enjoys. Football is a universal game. I think with the influence it has, whether its fans, clubs, players or officials – anyone affiliated with a club – we have to be able to use that platform to encourage anyone to change the slightest thing in the world to make it that little more sustainable."

Music returned to Strath Union

Hot on the heels of their performance at Glasgow Cathedral, watch HERE, classical ensemble ‘Under the Bridge’ performed Vivaldi's Four Seasons at Strath Union the first weekend of the After the Pandemic, and Scottish folk singer songwriter Kris Drever wowed the crowd with his midweek performance at Strath Union.

We spoke with a host of interesting people that are part of the movement fighting the #Climate Emergency…

During the past two weeks at Strath Union, we had the chance to chat with figures who had important contributions to make to the discussion surrounding climate change.

We welcomed Patrick Harvie, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants' Rights who spoke about future housing, transport, and the climate crisis. Benn Rapson, Strath Union President, presented Harvie and his colleague Lorna Slater with Honorary Life Memberships recognising they are the first Green Ministers in Scotland and the UK.

Speaking at Strath Union, Harvie hoped that the impact of COP26 would go beyond what global leaders agree upon during the conference.

He said: “In principle, obviously everybody, whatever age, should be involved in climate movements. In many ways whatever happens whether it's a deal or no deal if you like, the most important thing that must come out of this is the event [COP26] itself catalyses our domestic conversation on climate. Whatever the global leaders agree or don’t agree we have the same job to do. That’s to change our society, to cut our emissions, to do it fairly in terms of the communities in Scotland but also fairly in terms of climate justice around the world.

Benn Rapson, Student President, presenting Patrick Harvey with Strath Union life membership.

We also chatted to Councillor Anna Richardson, Convenor for Sustainability at Glasgow City Council about talking with others at COP26 and further afield about why climate change really matters.

In a message for Strathclyde students, she said: “You’re really lucky because this is a university that really cares about climate action and is taking some really tangible action on the ground to reduce their own carbon footprint. There are so many interesting conversations going on about sustainability and climate. It affects all our futures we need to act now and the first things to do is inform yourself, educate yourself, to have conversations with people about why it matters, about what you can do but also put pressure on those that are making decisions on behalf of all of us and make sure climate stays at the top of the agenda.

And then to finish it all off, we had a conversation with Kumi Naidoo about his climate activism and experiences working alongside organisations such as Greenpeace International last week. Keep your eyes peeled for the conversation coming to our new podcast channel soon!

Kumi Naidoo receiving his Strath Union life membership from three student executive members and the BAME Rep.

We caught up with our old President Kayla-Megan Burns at the New York Time Climate Hub...

We had the opportunity to support former Strath Union Student President, Kayla Megan Burns at the New York Times Climate Hub at SWG3. She was part of the debate on how “Our Obsession With Technology Will Slow Down the Green Transition.” During her talk, she spoke about how technology has helped the climate movement.

She said: “We already use technology in the fight against climate change every single day. It far from paralyzes us. We use it for monitoring our impacts, increasing the sustainability of our practices and in climate adaptation strategies. Social Media is a hugely important tool for organising. Through it we’ve seen the rise of fights for climate and social justice and they’ve all grown into massive global movements, built power and held people accountable in ways which we never could have done before. Technology has brought us together.

Some famous faces caused quite a stir….

First, we bumped into Greta Thunberg during the #FridaysForFuture march.

Greta Thunberg in crowd at climate march.

Then, the 44th President of the United States Barack Obama visited Strath Union as part of a Climate Change roundtable, discussing the climate emergency with a group of young climate activists. During his speech, he said: “When I planned to come to Glasgow, part of the plan was to be helpful at COP itself. But the first thing I said when people suggested I go, my biggest interest would be to meet some of the young activists involved on the ground. Because those are my roots. That’s where I come from that’s what I believe in. That’s what the [Obama] foundation is about.

Watch climate activist Jack Harries’ video covering COP26, climate activism in Glasgow and the roundtable with Obama HERE.

Crowds gathered outside Strath Union to catch a glimpse of the ex-President entering and later leaving the building. As a final message to Strathclyde students, Obama called on young people and on-lookers to “Get Active!

Barack Obama arriving at Learning and Teaching Building on Strathclyde campus.

The past two weeks have definitely been eventful and filled with plenty of experiences many of us will remember for a lifetime. Let us know what your favourite event or moment during COP26 at #51Richmond and/or in Glasgow was on social media.