The big read: Sheffield activist coalition hoping to make a 'big splash' in Sheffield during COP26

A Sheffield activism coalition is joining a global day of action next month in support of climate justice – but say their campaign will continue long after the COP26 conference.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 6:00 am
Extinction Rebellion outside Sheffield Town Hall exactly one year on from when Sheffield City Council declared a climate emergency. Picture Scott Merrylees

Sheffield Climate Campaign Umbrella Group (SCCUG) is a coalition of Sheffield based climate campaign groups, trade unions, faith groups and racial justice networks working towards climate justice.

The group is one of many across the country and the world which will participate in a Global Day of Action for Climate Justice on November 6.

Members of groups involved in the coalition spoke to Sheffield Telegraph about why it is important that global and local leaders take climate change seriously at COP26.

Martin Mayer at an event campaigning for steps towards bringing Sheffield buses back under public ownership.

Lucinda Wakefield, coordinator for SCCUG, said: “It’s not just urgent now, it has to happen. We have to have action now and that’s why the coalition that we’ve built is so important. We know we are heading for disaster if we don’t do something.

"Our big themes are transport, 1 million climate jobs [nationally], and having a smooth transition. Another issue is the global south - effects of climate change are being felt right now by people living in countries which have contributed the least to it."

COP26 is an international conference where world leaders will meet to discuss plans to tackle climate change. It will be held in Glasgow from October 31 – November 12.

The Global Day of Action is a series of grassroots events uniting climate activists with the goal of putting pressure on local authorities, world leaders and corporations to deliver fair and meaningful solutions to climate change.

A climate protest event held in Sheffield during the G7 summit in June 2021.

Martin Mayer, Secretary of Sheffield Trade Union Council, said: “There is a sense of this being a big global event, it has to be.

"We have very little confidence that the heads meeting in Glasgow will do more than say a few fine words and make a few promises. COP26 creates a focus but our message will continue long after because it is so damn serious.”

Molly Cowell, aged 17, who a member of Youth Strike for Climate explained that the coalition benefits from being a broad church.

She said: “We will all feel the impact of climate change albeit in different ways. There is sometimes conflict and debate but it’s always low level and it’s often very interesting.”

A banner for the SCCUG

In the lead up to the Day of Action, SCCUG have held several events to highlight climate issues and build support and momentum. They petitioned for better public transport infrastructure, and for 10,000 climate jobs in South Yorkshire.

Regarding how Sheffield Council has responded to the climate crisis, Jenny Carpenter, Co-Chair of Sheffield Climate Alliance, said: “Little has been done to follow up on the Arup report (a road map to a carbon neutral Sheffield).

"The central cry of Sheffield City Council is ‘we haven’t got the money’. But we are going to need something very major in order to tackle issues like retrofitting housing. The economy can’t continue to grow just for the sake of growth."

Martin added: “The council have been absolutely restricted by huge spending cuts - it is running on half the money they had ten years ago.”

A Sheffield Stop The War protest held at City Hall.

In Sheffield, activists will be assembling at Devonshire Green on November 6 at 12pm before marching to City Hall for a rally at 1.30pm. Martin said: “We will have a big screen in the front of City Hall to link in with Glasgow and global protests. We want to make a big splash in Sheffield.”

Lucinda added: “It is important we come together with one voice. The way that groups like Extinction Rebellion are campaigning is not new but it galvanised everybody together in understanding the crisis.”

Another event planned in the run-up to the Day of Action is a Global Justice Climate Summit from October 23-24 which will include national and international speakers as well as a film viewing.

Members of SCCUG explained that they don’t just want to point out problems, and can offer practical solutions to issues associated with climate change.

Martin added: “One of the main messages we want to get across is it’s not just unpleasant things we need to do to get society sorted. Some of the things are quite good, like one million green jobs."

Molly said: “A lot of our events do look at different issues - we have open conversations with people and local authorities. Climate activism should be accessible and inclusive.”

Those interested in getting involved with SCCUG and attending their events can get in touch through their Facebook page here.