Charles Dicken’s famous 19th century novel is updated to a 21st Century blog, with London making way
for Glasgow, along with Paris. I attended the big COP21 in Paris in 2015 and COP26 in Glasgow last year.
COP stands for Conference of the Parties and is the UN inter-governmental body that meets annually to
address climate change. It is meeting this month in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt as COP27.

I was part of the Cherbourg 35, organised by Stop Climate Chaos, that travelled on a bus from Dublin to
Paris for COP21 in December 2015. It was just after the terror that rained on the city with the Bataclan
and other attacks that killed 130 people. A state of emergency was declared in the city. Some of the
party decided not to go, but 35 eventually got on the bus.

After a rough sea crossing from Rosslare, I avoided sea-sickness by eating immediately I got on board
and getting straight to bed! Given the state of emergency, our bus was stopped leaving Cherbourg
harbour by the French gendarme for around 3 hours on reports that there was an agent provocateur on
board. Our big sign on the bus did not help -it read Stop Climate Chaos. It was confiscated. There was
great debate on the bus about turning around and returning to Ireland or heading to Paris without police
permission. We were live on Drivetime on RTE as MEP Grace O’Sullivan was interviewed while on the
bus. Family & friends were texting me on the bus as to my welfare. Frantic phone calls took place with
the French embassy in Dublin and the Irish embassy in Paris to try and secure our release. We were
finally allowed to go on our way and ended in Paris at a late hour.

With the state of emergency, it was not legal to meet with more than 3 people, so large-scale protesting
in Paris was off the agenda. However, the regulations were relaxed and we were allowed to congregate
in demonstrations at the Eiffel tower and along the Champs Elysees. The Paris Accord emerged from the
COP and put structure on how states would meet climate change targets in 5-year periods. However, it
was not mandatory and was up to the states to do their bit. An Taisce had several delegates in Paris.

Fast forward 6 years to Glasgow to COP26 which was put back by a year due to the pandemic. There was
no organised trip from Dublin, so I went overland myself to stay with my niece who is training to be a
nurse in the city. An Taisce Education Unit colleagues Gary Tyrrell and Richard Curtin cycled to Glasgow
– well done! I went Sail/Rail via Holyhead (which is great value given the cost of rail tickets in Britain). 

I was wondering whether it was better follow same route via Belfast.
I attended the 2 big demonstrations including a youth march. Both were very well attended, especially
the big parade on the middle Saturday, even though it was a very wet day. Colourful delegations from all
over the world were on show. Going to COP events was a bit difficult as you had to be certified as Covid-
free to get in. I spent a good deal of time, including sheltering from the rain, at the central Green party
hub, where I met a lot of like-minded people from around Europe.

I feel the COP26 result was a bit of a disappointment when they could not agree to phase out coal, never
mind oil and gas. Given the temperatures outside as I write, and all around Western Europe and elsewhere,

I am fearful about our collective efforts to mitigate the greatest issue facing humanity. Great
long read from our president Sean McDonagh SSC.

I left Glasgow Central on my return journey at 8.30 in the morning. Mid-morning the train to London
was 8 minutes late getting into Warrington and I missed a connecting train on my journey to Holyhead.
As a result, I missed the ferry to Dublin. I eventually arrived home around 1am – over 17 hours of travel!
It’s not easy being green!