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Faces of COP26: Meet the ex-corporate consultant fighting for her son’s future

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Protesters like Abigail are making their voices heard on the streets of Glasgow
Protesters like Abigail are making their voices heard on the streets of Glasgow   -   Copyright  Euronews Green
By Marthe de Ferrer

Throughout COP26, we’re profiling some interesting people we meet here in Glasgow.

From volunteers to politicians to activists to scientists, we’ll bring you the breadth of people here at the UN climate summit.

Name

Abigail

Role

Activist and protestor, partly with Extinction Rebellion. Management consultant.

Why are you here at COP26?

We have to keep pressure on in any way we can.

Some people don't think protest does anything, but for me not doing anything is basically saying - I don't care that world leaders are still extracting fossil fuel. And I don't care that we're all refusing to take action.

So I have to keep going out, I have to keep protesting, whether it's in London or Glasgow or wherever.

Why do you choose to protest?

I've got a son and I'm deeply concerned about what life he's going to have, and what choices he's going to have to make in a few years time really.

I feel guilty, I guess that this is the world that we've left him. He's 17, so he's getting to the point where he's still in kind of ignorant bliss. But eventually, he's going to want to think about whether to have children. That's something that young people can't just lightly consider anymore - how insane is that?

The planet is so unstable and the likelihood of mass genocide, which is what's coming from climate inaction, is so likely now that young people can't have children. They are terrified for their own lives and certainly wouldn't bring anyone else into this world.

Marthe de Ferrer
Abigail, a climate activist who says climate inaction is racism, genocide and ecocide.Marthe de Ferrer

Could you explain what your sign means?

We talk about climate change in the UK as ‘coming’, but it's not coming. It's here.

It’s here - especially in the Global South, and in communities that colonisation and capitalism have already massively depleted and murdered. Now they're having to deal with the climate crisis and they have not caused it. They are the lowest emitters now, and historically.

The UK and America are the biggest emitters. I don't want to hear about China and India right now - it's a load of rubbish, because historically, we are the biggest emitters.

If we don't act on it, it's racism.

We need to think about acting on the climate crisis now. If we don't act on it, it's racism.

Because the marginalised communities in this world are the ones that are currently on the frontlines fighting and being harmed. Like the activists in the Niger Delta who had to fight Shell and got murdered….and the activists in the Amazon who are still being murdered.

These are people, they’re Indigenous communities that keep getting murdered by capitalism, all for fossil fuel, and are now having to deal with the climate crisis too.

And it's all because of the way we live our lives. So if we don't act, it is actually mass genocide. It’s ecocide, because we're killing loads of species.

But most importantly, it’s racism - let's call it what it is.

Did you come into environmentalism gradually or was there a lightbulb moment?

I'm a management consultant. I worked in the City of London for most of my life, and I travelled to Switzerland every single week.

People used to say to me, “Oh, gosh, your carbon footprint must not be very great.” To be honest, I didn't know what they meant.

Then I was in central London and I met some Extinction Rebellion rebels. I started finding out what happened and I learned a lot there.

Then I did my own research, and it was honestly two weeks of hell, realising how bad the situation was, how bad the planet that my son was having to grow up in was, how bad the inequality is.

I realised how oblivious we as humans were.

I realised how oblivious we as humans were. I had this assumption that the government and corporations wouldn’t let us carry on doing what we were doing. That was a really, really silly assumption.

I cannot believe how much everyone - companies, governments all around the world - are lying to us and hiding it. It's insane and now I've learned too much - so I'm trying to rectify that.

But I was the same as everyone else, it was a huge shock to the system.

Marthe de Ferrer
Abigail protesting at COP26Marthe de Ferrer

What are your hopes for COP26?

I think the IPCC report was pretty clear. The report unequivocally says that we've already extracted enough fossil fuels and even if we burn all of what we've already extracted, we're in trouble. Leaders are saying they want to stop global warming going past 1.5C, but if they don't act on this, then they aren't going to stick to the 1.5C.

At the very least, we need to stop extraction now. We also need to look at the ways that we enable those economies that are so dependent on fossil fuels to have a just transition.

At the very least, we need to stop extraction now.

We need to look at how we build our green new world - in a way that will make loads and loads and loads of jobs!

Like David Attenborough said yesterday, this could be the next industrial revolution that we need, and it will be great for the world.

Once we get away from fossil fuels and the dirty world that companies like Shell, Exxon Mobil and BP have created, I think it will be much more just.

But whether that happens, I do not know and that's why I'm here. I would love that to be the answer, but I'm sure the fight has just started.