Glasgow, Scotland – Thousands of climate activists marched through the Scottish city that hosted the United Nations climate summit on Saturday, physically close to global negotiators but separated by a vast gap in expectations, with frustrated marchers calling off climate talks. Rapidly rejected and demanded immediate action to slow global warming instead.
Despite complaints of rain and bursts, the atmosphere of protest in Glasgow was upbeat. Climate protests took place across Europe, including London, Paris, Dublin, Copenhagen, Zurich and Istanbul.
Protesters condemned government leaders around the world, saying climate talks so far have failed to produce the quick action needed. Activist Greta Thunberg on Friday condemned the talks, calling it “blah, blah, blah”.
“We’re having these conversations, but don’t really have a policy to support them,” said Days Agazi, a London marcher at a Glasgow performance, shouting to the steady beat of drums.
“And on top of that, real people have to be in the room,” Agazi said, echoing complaints that there is increasingly limited participation by the public at the Glasgow summit. “How are we supposed to make good policy when its stakeholders aren’t even in the room?”
Marchers were holding signs with messages including “Code Red for Humanity,” “Stop the big polluters,” “COP26, we’re looking at you” or simply “I’m angry.” A sign asked, “If not you then who? Now or never?”
Megan McClellan, 24, of Glasgow, said she suspected climate negotiators were listening.
“It’s a very easy thing for them to ignore. They’re nice and comfortable” inside the summit center, she said, which is surrounded by a steel fence.
But her 30-year-old friend Lucet Wood from Edinburgh disagreed.
“They can’t really do anything about it, but they pretend they do… and they’ll put it off for 20-30 years,” Wood said.
Whether as a strategy to increase pressure on governments or to reject talks, Thunberg’s dismissal of the two-week summit – with another week left – has resonated inside and outside the summit venue. Government leaders and negotiators say they are as aware of the urgency of their action as the time is running out to curb pollution from fossil fuels before Earth’s temperatures rise too high.
Marcher Jason Cook, 54, came to Glasgow with two friends and all three wore helmets bearing the word “blah”.
Cook, like other marchers, echoed Thunberg’s words: “We don’t want to hear any more blah, blah, blah,” he said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been one of several global leaders who have embraced Thunberg’s phrase as he defends the progress made by governments in increasing emissions cuts and climate financing promises.
Canada’s Member of Parliament and 16-time UN climate talks participant Elizabeth May joined the Glasgow protesters on Saturday.
“Overwhelmingly, protest makes a difference,” May said. “Most of the people inside are here in their hearts and sometimes physically.”
Inside the sprawling United Nations convention venue, negotiators negotiated a seventh day of talks between nearly 200 countries, which could be passed to government ministers for political approval next week. A new commitment to cap global warming at 1.5 °C (2.7 °F), prompting countries to review their efforts more frequently to increase pressure for deeper cuts, and more financial support for poorer countries to adapt is to provide. to climate change.
Summit president Alok Sharma told reporters that he understood the frustration of the protesters.
“I think we have made progress overall,” Sharma said on Saturday. “I think the people in the negotiating room have been creative.”
“We are reaching the point where the rubber hits the road, where we have to take tough decisions by government officials”, he said. “I certainly don’t underestimate the difficulty of the task that lies ahead of us.”
Saturday’s march attracted many participants and ages, a day after the Future Movement on Friday saw thousands of youth protest outside the fence of the Glasgow convention. Thunberg’s mix of school strikes, blunt and impatient talk about government excuses, and mass demonstrations have fueled climate protests, particularly in Europe, since 2018.
The climate protest movement – and this year’s worsening droughts, hurricanes, floods, wildfires and other disasters around the world – has brought home many of the accelerated damages of global warming and calls on governments for stronger and faster action to reduce fossil fuels. pressure is maintained. fuel emissions.
In central London, hundreds of climate protesters marched from the Bank of England to Trafalgar Square. Protester Sue Hampton, 64, said everyone is at risk and all generations need to press for action.
“We cannot let the youth here do all the work. We all have to do it together,” she said.
In Istanbul, climate protesters brought their children to a demonstration on Saturday, emphasizing the impact of global warming on future generations.
“I want my children to live on a beautiful planet in the future,” said 52-year-old Kadriye Basut in Istanbul.
Danica Kirka in London, Seth Borenstein in Glasgow and Andrew Wilkes in Istanbul contributed to this report.