COP26 in Glasgow promised much, but did it deliver? Once again political leaders from around the world met in an attempt to agree measures to reduce the human impact of rising temperatures globally through climate change. The conference provided an opportunity for change but whilst leaders flew

in and flew back again, there appears little resolve to make the sacrifices needed to change the current path we are on.

Whilst many nations drown both in debt and in rising sea levels, the rich nations of the world were either absent or sleeping at conference through ignorance and apathy of the plight of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries. Many people may be asking what hope is there, if our leaders cannot see, hear, or speak for a world crying out for solidarity and recognition of the precipice we stand upon. So is there hope of better days ahead? Who will stand up for those least able to protect themselves and what can we do about it?

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I believe strongly that there is hope and indeed inspiration, not in our world leaders, but in the very people who marched together in Glasgow to represent the peoples of the world who were not able to be there. Everyday anonymous heroes are campaigning in villages, communities and isolated wildernesses throughout the world, seeking to create a more sustainable planet that shares its resources for the better good of all. I heard these stories time and time again on the streets of Glasgow, meeting people from around the world who had come to Glasgow not as world leaders, but as activists and ordinary citizens who recognise that for climate change to happen, we as individuals and communities need to change too.

During COP26, events took place in Glasgow to discuss how we might influence change internationally to address the reality of our nations’ failure to share in our resources sustainably and reduce the impact of rising temperatures.

In recognition of the impact of plastics on the planet, Dovesdale Action Group (also representing anti-incineration groups across the UK; UKWIN) was invited to join representatives from Belgium, Ghana, USA, Spain and Chile to discuss the consequences of our actions globally and what we can do as individuals and communities to encourage change locally and nationally. The invitation to speak at COP26 was both humbling and daunting at the same time, but the experience was rewarding in recognising we are not alone in our endeavours to protect our communities.

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Presently South Lanarkshire is awaiting an application from Viridor to build the largest waste incinerator in Scotland. Dovesdale Action Group took the decision to seek a moratorium nationally on incineration to protect not just our communities but all the towns and villages across Scotland facing the massive impact of millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere.

To this end we have sought the support of organisations and politicians who share our concerns and we have been successful in achieving a Review of Incineration in Scotland, as announced by the Scottish Government recently. We believe the evidence of climate change through the greenhouse gas emissions is overwhelming. Equally, we believe the impact on public health and the rural economy through such emissions will be detrimental to the national interests and the improvement of recycling targets and better packaging. Incineration is neither clean nor green and has no place in what is known as the “circular economy”. In short, multi-national companies should not be profiting from pollution and greenwashing the impacts of climate change.

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Climate change knows no borders, so it is essential we unite not just in Scotland but internationally to stop the increasing number of incinerators being erected across the world polluting our soil, water and air, and stop the burning of recyclable materials that could otherwise be reused as a resource. We hope in the months ahead the political parties of Scotland will unite to establish a new path by leading other nations to create a more sustainable waste industry by planting the seeds of change by targeting an end to incineration. We believe that time for change is now.

COP26 has come to an end and the time for talking is over. As Greta Thunberg suggested, we will be judged not by our words, but by our actions. With our young people leading the way, Dovesdale Action Group hope others will be inspired and invigorated to join the movement to influence policy change nationally and indeed locally in how we face the challenges of climate change. How many COP events do we need until it’s too late? The clock is ticking…

John Young
Dovesdale Action Group