“We cannot do nothing”: activists unite to mark the start of COP 28

  • A group of local activists came together for a climate crisis vigil outside Media City
  • The event marked the start of COP 28, the United Nations conference on the climate
  • Speeches and songs were performed to demand more from world leaders and the media

A group of climate activists gathered at Media City on Thursday to hold world leaders and media corporations to account for the impact of climate change.

The vigil, organised by Cordelia Newsome, marked the first day of COP 28, the UN climate change conference, taking place in Dubai until 12 December.

United Nations conference

The United Nations website states that ‘the COP is where the world comes together to agree on ways to address the climate crisis’.

Cordelia belongs to Climate Justice Coalition, which believes that COP’s Climate negotiations have failed to keep global temperatures down and pay damages to vulnerable countries that have suffered the most.

“These are real people”: two attendees of the vigil holding signs with photographs of real people who have been affected by the climate crisis. Photo credit: Zoe Spencer.

The vigil was a mixture of songs and speeches aimed at world leaders, with many members holding powerful signs of real people affected by climate change.

Empty words and greenwashing

“We wanted our message to go out straight away that we expect better things from them,” said Cordelia.

“Everyone here has lost faith in the conference because they’ve not honoured their promises. There have been a lot of empty words, greenwashing and promises that just aren’t fulfilled”.

The demands

Climate Justice Coalition is asking world leaders to:

  • End licensing and funding of new fossil fuels
  • Cut carbon emissions by 45% by 2030
  • Accelerate the just transition to a green economy
  • Make polluters pay for loss and damages
  • Honour existing climate finance commitments
One of the members of the group doing a speech outside the BBC. Photo credit: Zoe Spencer.

Cordelia said: “They promised they would pay loss of damages to countries that have been most affected by climate change, countries in the global south. That was last year at COP 27 and nothing has been paid.

“Most of all, we are concerned about the fact that COP 28 is being held in the United Arab Emirates, which is one of the top ten oil-producing countries.

“There is an element of what is the point? Is there any hope at all, but we all feel you can’t do nothing.

“We have got to say, this is what we want from you”.

Professor Michael Jacobs of Sheffield University, who is an expert on climate politics, told the BBC the COP28 team’s actions looked “breathtakingly hypocritical”.

Cordelia Newsome, the organiser of the event at Media City, showing a photograph of a woman who had lost her home to a wild fire. Photo credit: Zoe Spencer.

The vigil’s location was Media City in Salford, in a bid to get the Media’s attention and urge them to tell the truth about the climate crisis.

“There are a few people here who felt the BBC and the media generally have a very important role” said Cordelia.

“I think some people feel they haven’t really done enough and been as honest as they should because they’ve got an important message to get out to the public and they need to do more”.

Time for change

A member of Extinction Rebellion attending the vigil said: “We are standing outside the BBC asking them to tell the truth about the climate crisis”.

“We want the government and people in power to act now in the face of the climate crisis” they added.

When discussing the importance of climate activism for the future, Cordelia said “There is still time, if they do the right thing and make changes, it could be the most amazing future for generations to come”.