‘We’re activists against these institutions’: Disruption at Event by COP26 sponsors promoting “institutional activism”

An event by four COP26 sponsors was disrupted by campaign group Glasgow Calls Out Polluters (GCOP) yesterday.

Hitachi, Microsoft, NatWest and Scottish Power held an event to promote their “institutional activism” in addressing climate change, but activists interrupted proceedings describing themselves as ‘activists against these institutions’ – institutions they say are continuing to exacerbate the climate crisis.

The activists participating in the disruption argued that the event was held in bad faith, given that all four companies – in Scottish Power’s case, via its parent company Iberdrola – continue to provide significant support to the oil and gas sector. Their intervention involved handing out a recent report at the door which highlighted the 350 million tonnes of emissions attributed to the COP26 sponsors as well as interrupting keynote speakers during their presentations. The activists then held a banner reading ‘Drop the Act!’ before exiting by chanting the same slogan.

Cathel de Lima Hutchison from Glasgow Calls Out Polluters stated that:

“It is insulting and misleading that companies like Microsoft and Hitachi are promoting the idea that they support climate change activism within their institutions. Microsoft remains the principal digital partner to the oil and gas industry, while Hitachi continues to provide significant technological support to the sector. Clearly these companies’ primary response to committed climate activism is hollow rhetoric lathered over climate-wrecking business as usual. Empowering climate activism means dropping their interests in the fossil fuel and military sectors.”

All four companies are also signed up to both COP26 associated net-zero by 2050 programmes the Race to Zero and the Science-Based Targets Initiative. This intervention follows reports saying that these companies –  and the associated initiatives –  largely showboat about green credentials whilst shifting attention away from these companies’ polluting activities.

This action took place on the same day as the Global Youth Strike for Climate saw thousands of young people descending on Glasgow in protest against climate inaction. The protest was running with the call to ‘Uproot the System and Uproot the COP’.