The Bay Area March for COP26 was held Nov. 6 in an effort to draw attention to COP26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, and address activist demands for the conference.
According to Nik Evasco, youth climate organizer and program manager for 350 Bay Area, a climate activism organization, their youth mobilization team led the organization of the march along with other environmental justice, youth-focused and UC Berkeley organizations.
At its height, there were 450 people at the march, which was followed by a rally with speakers and performances where there were 100 people, according to Evasco. The march was initiated at Sproul Plaza where activists then walked through the south of campus, concluding at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park, where the rally was held.
“For COP26 we really wanted to focus on how these big international conferences are supposed to be setting up success for the future to fight the climate crisis or to come together to figure out how we’re going to beat these things, but that’s not happening,” Evasco said.
The Bay Area March for COP26 was one of the hundreds of youth marches happening around the world to support youth activists at the conference, Evasco added.
The march’s main aim was to focus on the need for these international climate change conferences, such as COP26, to set up policies and protocols to ensure the climate crisis is addressed.
According to campus economics professor Clair Brown, who spoke at the rally, youth activists at COP26 are working to provide statistics and information on climate change, while other leaders at the conference are talking about plans to extract coal, gas and oil through other means.
“There is this tension between the older business and government leaders making the decisions and the young, climate activists who care a great deal about justice outside who explain to them that they are burning up the earth and what they’re doing is so far away from what needs to be done,” Brown said.
Evasco said although the march focused on international environmental justice, as other marches did worldwide, youth activists part of the Bay Area march also focused on California-specific climate issues. These issues include protecting rooftop solar, preventing the expansion of gas capacity and working to influence the Democratic Party’s climate policies in the state.
Brown noted she believes today’s climate leaders are the youth, and added it is important for them to be in that role.
“All the UC Berkeley students should be involved and they should be learning about what is happening about the climate, what needs to be done, and what policies we need,” Brown said.