Last Saturday, we joined the COP26 Coalition’s march with our incredible supporters and volunteers, amplifying the voices of animalkind while world leaders discuss the climate crisis. Our Fundraising and Events Coordinator Kirsty L reflects on our #COPOUT26 march and the importance of activism in our latest blog:
We have been marching through central Glasgow for three hours now. Gathering in Kelvingrove Park earlier in the morning, we didn’t think the weather could possibly get any worse. A ridiculous thought on reflection – this is Scotland after all. Almost 5 hours later, the rain is now coming down in sheets.
I am wearing a cow costume and holding one end of our banner, which is slowly disintegrating in the torrential weather. Our campaigner Eve, also dressed as a cow, holds the other end of the banner to my right. Our hands are covered in flakes of orange as the paint peels from the canvas. OneKind Director Bob keeps it steady in the middle, keeping spirits high with words of hope and encouragement in light of the severity of the cause we are marching for.
It’s freezing. Nobody seems to care. No amount of Scottish weather will ever prevent the people from standing up for what they believe in.
In front of me, a young boy sits on his father’s shoulders. He has a small sign that says “Stop littering now!”. He has been chanting, for the past 2 hours: “SAVE THE PLAN-ET! SAVE THE PLAN-ET!”. He cannot possible be any older than 5. What a champion.
March For Animals
Our inspirational volunteers march behind me; animal lovers of all ages and nationalities united by their compassion for animalkind. They hold placards that demand for systematic change:
NO MORE GOVERNMENT COP-OUTS;
ANIMAL AGRICULTURE IS DESTROYING THE PLANET;
HUMANKIND + ANIMALKIND = ONEKIND;
FRIENDS NOT FOOD. GO VEGAN!
They march together, their commitment and dedication unaffected by the pouring rain and bone-chilling cold. The rain batters down on our placards and our COP slogans start to peel off. We recycled our placards from our last anti-fox hunting march, to be as eco-friendly as possible. Some of our signs now read “BAN FOX HUNTING“, which is still tragically relevant to the climate crisis, as legislation continues to threaten Scotland’s biodiversity. Our team march on regardless. Their determination never ceases to move me.
And we are just one small section of the march, no more than 50 of us. We certainly don’t feel small – we feel loud and important, and we are. The march comprises hundreds of thousands of people spanning across countless different organisations. All are marching for separate causes united under the umbrella of the climate crisis. Animal agriculture is destroying the planet, but there are so many other issues related to climate change that we are delighted to see others marching for.
The many voices of climate change
Young people are marching for their future, terrified and enraged by the ignorance of predecessors who ignored the warning signs. And moreover, with the current people in power who continue to be blinded by ignorance.
Conservationists march with giant floats shaped like birds of paradise. One of them holds a sign reading: “I don’t want to have to explain to my grandchild what a bee used to look like.”
Static protestors line the pavements either side of the road, dressed up like cartoon versions of the politicians who are failing us, and failing our planet.
Environmental activists beat drums and other percussion instruments that can be heard for miles. They chant powerful words of song and poetry on behalf of our planet and her inhabitants.
There is a sense of great unity here, despite the diversity of people and the causes which they advocate. Everyone has had enough: we demand change. We are angry, sad, and yet above all, hopeful. All of us believe in a better world.
#COPOUT26: Animal agriculture is destroying the planet
And everyone plays a part in this march. Our part was to raise our voices on behalf of non-human animals across the world, making clear the role of animal agriculture in the climate crisis.
Responsible for a sixth of global greenhouse gas emissions, factory farming and cattle grazing contributes astronomically to:
- rising temperatures
- ocean dead zones
- biodiversity loss, and
- pollution levels.
It’s also extremely energy inefficient; farming animals uses more water and burns more calories to produce than we gain from consuming their meat. It is a direct cause of world hunger, with one third of all crops grown done so to feed farmed animals, despite over 800 million people currently starving across the globe.
Animal agriculture is a matter of life and death, not just for the animals we so intensively farm and exploit, but for all life on earth.
A common cause
For me, the most moving part of this march is the diversity of the climate movement and the incredible sense of unity shared between its parts. We are all fighting for the future of life on earth, whether we are humanitarians, vegans, conservationists, political activists, or climate rebels (or a bit of everything). We are all using our voices to amplify causes that we know are of the utmost importance, listening to each other; learning from each other; growing with one another. And we stand together, united by our compassion and determination.
I realise we are nearing the end of the march as I see the Tolbooth Steeple, which in the run up to COP26, has been lit up with a doomsday clock counting down to the point of no-return. My heart sinks a little, as I wonder whether any of those in power came to see the march today. I wonder, if they did, how easy would it be for them to continue to ignore the plight of the people, of the planet. Could they continue to exploit our world if they had to look every protestor in the eye today? If they could feel the courage, determination, rage and hope that swells within this crowd?
The world is watching
A young woman marches ahead of me with a sign painted like a pair of eyes, the pupils replaced with globes. It reads: THE WORLD IS WATCHING. I feel hopeful and empowered by this message, because today, I have seen first-hand the truth behind this statement.
Those gathering in the SEC to discuss the future of the world – of our world – can no longer turn a blind eye to the climate crisis. Not when the threat of global warming is so great, that it unites millions of people across the world as we stand together for climate justice.
Team OneKind are a small part of today’s march, taking a stand, as always, for the animals we work tirelessly to protect. But we aren’t just Team OneKind today; we are people marching alongside thousands of others, unified by our compassion. We march today for the earth, for our fragile and beautiful planet. For our incredible home which we share with an awesome diversity of life; life which we have exploited to the detriment of all.
And to our world’s leaders, I remind you that the world is watching. That her people are unimpressed, and that we demand action.
A special thank you
I would like to thank all our incredible supporters for your dedication and commitment to protecting animals and our planet. Whether you marched with us in Glasgow for COP26, or support us in other ways, such as through donations or membership. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. It’s so easy to be hopeful for the future when I am surrounded by people like you.
 The point where the majority of environmental damage caused by the human race will no longer be reversible.