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Inside Scoop on COP26

by ajack last modified 11 Nov, 2021 10:09 AM

It takes more than the world leaders to change the world; the hope that we have and the small steps that each of us take matter too. That’s the opinion of the Revd Hilary Bond, Schools & Children's Worker from St Martin's, Sandford. And she put her opinions into practice last week, when she attended COP26.

Taken from her social media posts, below is Hilary's COP26 Diary 

DAY 1 

The Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in the heart of Glasgow is hosting the COP26 conference from 31st October to 12th November. Many world leaders are gathering to discuss the impact of and solutions to, climate change.  

I got to see it for myself: 

I’m taking my voice and my feet and my heart to play my part - whatever that might be - in this happening that is COP 26.   

DAY 2 

Ironically, because of trees blown down on the train line, many delegates chose to fly to Scotland where they were then escorted by cars at high speed to the “blue zone” where the key negotiations between world leaders were taking place.  

Not a world leader myself, I visited the “green zone” hosted by the Glasgow Science Centre, which is an engaging space for the general public, youth groups, civil society, academia, artists, and businesses to have their voices heard.  

It is filled with diverse exhibits, events, workshops and talks that promote dialogue, awareness, education and commitment to climate action. 

I have visited the green zone where there are beautiful “solutions” to the climate crisis and beautiful posters reminding us of the need to act now. I have listened to people from around the world sharing their stories and it has been both encouraging and devastating. 

I have met with lovely people, hugged old friends and connected with new. I have prayed as part of the interfaith vigil, looking at the brown fast flowing Clyde which dances with floating autumn leaves, or with closed eyes breathing the love of God and assuming that the tears that will not stay away may be his too.  

DAY 3 

This morning I took my turn in wearing the ‘coat of hopes’. This coat is a travelling, community created, work of performance art. Starting out in Newhaven, East Sussex, the patchwork coat was walked 500 miles by a series of ‘coat pilgrims’ visiting various places along the way. The journey involved a twice-weekly stitching stop where patches made by local people sharing their hopes and grief for our planet, were sewn onto the coat. 

Today the coat was carried to the entrance to the Blue zone,  where an invitation was issued to anyone who would like to wear the coat and experience the weight of the warmth and responsibility that we all bear. 

There was much fun and laughter, great conversation, and good food.

We are very blessed. We appreciate the blessing, but we have not forgotten why we are here. At one sobering point the names of people who have died as a result of climate change were read out.  

DAY 4  

I enjoyed a gently meandering day today going out for a walk with friends and they visited the outside of St Mungo’s (Kentigern’s) cathedral, a beautiful place. Back at the conference, I  joined with others,  

 kneeling in prayer as the delegates pass to enter the blue zone. Cameras everywhere, from phones to TV cameras. The vigil is greatly filmed and photographed and we hear (as we sit or kneel with closed eyes) as someone talking to camera talks about us as ‘a more subtle form of protest. 

I enjoyed tea with friends, previously only seen on zoom, and then some outdoor prayer. Much later in the evening, there was a bit of a treat as they saw “a faint green glow of the Aurora - we think.” Beautiful. 

 DAY 5 


My day started with a walk across frosty grass, a bus, and an hour or two of vigil: once again kneeling by the blue zone entrance holding silence as we of many faiths bear witness to the suffering of the world: love and grief for our sacred earth. 

In the blue zone decisions are being made. Good news for forests - in 2030 - but we are not sure about now. More coal will be left in the ground - but not all of the big players agree. There is still hope - but it sometimes seems distant. 

While all the talking and decision making was going on by the world leaders, I joined in with a very cold peace march wearing two hats and thick gloves! S 

A banner says “war is not green.” It is all connected. A quick zoom with one of the schools I work in who wanted to be here with me - very special. Inspiring people speak and then we move. We march to the beat of the samba band waving flags to the front gates of BAE. They make weapons - I don’t think I need to say more - we would all prefer peace to war. Some children and their mum on the way home from school ask what is going on and we stop to explain, then a conversation with a reporter from the Times - hope I didn’t say anything too daft in either situation! Hot tea in a cafe is very welcome, then another walk back to the centre of town. 

The evening brings a treat. Supper with a friends old and new. Fantastic vegan food and then a jam session. We make music, share stories, talk about our own COP experiences, discover some very unexpected connections and watch from the window Diwali fireworks. 

We are asked how we are feeling about going home tomorrow. We head back to our Glasgow home on a train and a bus and the frosty walk of this morning in reverse and darkness. Stars light our way and we are reminded yet again of why we are here and how everything is connected -everything”  

DAY 6 

My day starts with a beautiful sunrise and a lovely walk, 

We go home later and are still packing and so decide to go for the next bus - only an extra 20 minutes. We walk through the woods beside the golf course. It is very still. Magpies call around us; the floor is littered with debris from the trees, and mushrooms sprout white and glossy. We take it slowly and savour what the morning has to offer. We miss the path we know and see the bus pass the end of the road just as we get there. The driver looks at us - wearing our big packs and looking hopefully in his direction- and speeds off. It’s ok - there is always another bus! We leave packs at the bus station and head off after the Coat of Hopes.  

It is our hope to share in the daily ritual outside the blue zone. We catch up just as they arrive. Barbara stands so tall and confident and issues the invitation - the words are longer but they say “come and wear the coat of hopes - just for a few minutes.”  

A simple invitation but it takes many of those who accept it to a deep place. This is a place of huge diversity. The delegates from almost every country of the world must pass through these gates and cannot avoid seeing the coat. People respond to the invitation. Some stand with arms outstretched in openness to all that the coat represents; others smile wide with joy. Some look out into the crowd, palms together in a universal gesture of peace, and a few stand and weep; tears pouring down their faces as something touches their deepest parts. As they stand - we sing - gently - the coat song.

This morning the gentle singing, and the gap between the love, vulnerability and openness that is here, and the half-hearted commitments that are being made inside is too much for me and I am one of those in tears. A friend slides her hand into mine. There is great emotional freedom here and it is cleansing not to have to hide. This is sacred space. 

DAY 7 

I would like to have stayed longer at COP26, but felt it was very important to get back home to join in with the COP coalition march in Weymouth,  

After an interesting train journey yesterday, the train fun continued this morning. Having come home from Glasgow last night I was very happy to be heading for the march in Weymouth; taking the train to Dorchester to pick up my car (electric) from the garage on the way. I had a plan - easy. Unfortunately, the signal went wrong somewhere down the line and my train did not appear. I decided to look at the app on my phone and see if I could discover what was going on, and it was at this point that I discovered I had left my phone – along with my electronic ticket – at home! Eventually all things did come together and I made it to Weymouth.  I had my Christian Climate Action patch pinned onto the front of my jumper and was carrying rolled up the flag that had already been to Glasgow and back with me ready to wave again. 

This rally and march was the reason for leaving Glasgow yesterday. It would have been good to have been part of the big march in Glasgow, but it matters so much that throughout the country and across the world many people are doing their own smaller things for the Global day of action for climate justice, and sending a united message to those who are making the decisions at COP 26 that we have not taken our eye off the ball. 

I wind up in a different role today. There is a small samba band being put together and this is something I have wanted to do since the beginning of my involvement with extinction rebellion. At many big gatherings the samba band draws people together, attracts attention, and makes people smile. At a Christian worship gathering a few years ago someone commented that the beating of the drum was like the heartbeat of God, and perhaps there is something of that in the samba drumming too. There is a carnival atmosphere here, but the message is still serious.  

We pause outside HSBC and Barclays to take a moment to remind ourselves of the harm that their money is doing as they invest in the fossil fuel industry, and everyone is challenged about where they put their own money. 

We chant; “What do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now.” The vast majority of people here are not Christians and yet I am reminded again of Micah 6:8; “what does the Lord your God require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." The messages we are sending here are not complicated. 

 The afternoon ends gathered around the table with friends, and chips, and a view of the sea. It is lovely, and it is hard to imagine that things could be otherwise – but then, that lack of imagination is part of the problem isn't it?” 

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