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People, not conferences, will save the planet, says Greta ally Skibb’s Saoi

November 6th, 2021 11:40 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Skibbereen’s Saoi O’Connor above (wearing black mask) with fellow climate activist Greta Thunberg at Cop26.

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SKIBBEREEN environmental activist Saoi O’Connor is working alongside Greta Thunberg to raise awareness of the danger of a rise in global temperature at an international climate conference in Glasgow.

Cop, which stands for Conference of the Parties, is about how countries can tackle climate change, but Saoi told The Southern Star that such conferences ‘can’t give us what we’re fighting for, only the people can do that.’ For the last few months, Saoi has been in Glasgow, working with the movement, in preparation for Cop26.

She is a supporter of the Most Affected People and Areas movement that sailed up the Clyde on the Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior, while several hundred more marched to greet them.

‘These are the people we need to be listening to,’ she said.

Saoi said the question most often asked of young environmental activists, such as Greta Thunberg and Skibbereen’s Alicia O’Sullivan – who is also attending as part of a UCC delegation –  is, ‘Are you hopeful about the outcomes of Cop26?

But she believes Cop in itself is contradictory ‘because it can’t save us. There is almost nothing further to be achieved from these talks, something which is demonstrated by their swing towards becoming a giant publicity stunt.’

‘Increasingly, climate negotiations are becoming a spectator sport,’ she added. ‘Two years ago at Cop25, no one outside of the climate movement seemed to know what Cop was.

‘Now people with global north businesses, celebrities, youth participation organisations and many non-stakeholders are lining up to be at, and be seen at Cop26.

‘At the same time, grassroots activists, frontline communities and even ministerial delegations from the Most Affected Peoples are still struggling to get in the door,’ Saoi said.

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