We spoke to activists from the Global South in the wake of COP26 ‘whitewashing’ claims

Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate have slammed COP26 for its focus on the Global North

Greta Thunberg addressed a gathered crowd in George Square after last Friday’s climate march and criticised COP26 for its failure to include voices from outside the Global North. “This is no longer a climate conference,” the climate campaigner said. “This is now a Global North greenwash festival, a two-week long celebration of business as usual and blah blah blah.”

Her fellow climate activist, Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate also criticised the conference’s lack of focus on the Southern hemisphere. The 24-year-old activist, who founded the organisation Youth for Future Africa, said: “While the Global South is on the frontlines of the climate crisis, they’re not on the front pages of the world’s newspapers”.

She went on to criticise the media’s role in the alleged lack of diversity throughout the conferences, saying: “We’ve seen activists from the most affected areas being erased from pictures, from conversations and removed from rooms. But how will we have climate justice if people from the most affected areas are not being listened to?”

In the wake of both young climate activists’ comments, The Tab spoke to several campaigners from the Global South at the protest to hear their thoughts on COP26.

Sasha, a Fine Arts student from the Philippines, said she was in Glasgow to “represent her country”.  She described her government as having “zero support” from western nations. However, she was also critical of her delegation’s role in excluding activists. “All of our delegation for COP26 was made up of politicians”, she said. “There are no climate activists, no youth activists and no other organisations represented at all.”

Val, also from the Philippines, was in Glasgow as an NGO observer with the Association of Young Climate Journalists. “I think there is some truth to it (COP26) being whitewashed,” he said. He echoed Sasha’s concerns about a lack of representation for certain groups amongst delegations, describing the conference as “very exclusive and biased towards politicians”. “Climate change is a Global problem, and we see decision makers are mostly white, with white experiences behind them”.

Thuan, a law student from Brazil said: “At COP, there is a lot of talk about how we need to change to save the future, but in Brazil, we have water shortages right now. We need to change to save the present”. She was also critical of delegations being biased towards politicians, saying “as civilians, we also need to be here to fight for our present and our future”.

A COP26 spokesperson said: “Throughout the summit and its Presidency programme, the UK has provided a platform for a diverse range of voices to directly address Leaders and Ministers. In line with our commitment to host a fully inclusive COP26, we helped participants from over 70 countries become fully vaccinated, provided assistance with managed quarantine and worked with our hotel provider to ensure a range of fairly-priced accommodation options.”