The frustration grows as the protesters demand faster climate protection measures
By Ellen Knickmeyer and Frank Jordans
The Associated Press
GLASGOW, Scotland Tens of thousands of climate activists marched through the Scottish city where the UN climate summit was being held on Saturday, physically close to global negotiators but separated by a huge gap in expectations of global warming.
The mood at the protest rally in Glasgow was positive despite the complaints and rain showers. Climate protests also took place across Europe, including in London, Paris, Dublin, Copenhagen, Zurich and Istanbul.
Protesters condemned government leaders around the world, saying the climate talks have not yet produced the swift action needed. Activist Greta Thunberg condemned the talks on Friday as “blah, blah, blah”.
“We are having these talks, but there are no guidelines that actually support them,” said Daze Aghaji, a protester from London at the demonstration in Glasgow, yelling over the steady beating of the drums.
“And on top of that, the real people should be in the room,” said Aghaji, repeating the complaints that the Glasgow Summit had restricted public participation too much. “How are we going to have decent policies when the people who are the advocates of it aren’t even in the room?”
The protesters held signs with messages like “Code Red for Humanity”, “Stop the Big Polluters”, “COP26, we are watching you” or simply “I’m angry”. A sign asked, “If not you, who will? If not now then when?”
Megan McClellan, 24, from Glasgow said she doubted climate negotiators were listening.
“It’s a very easy thing for them to ignore. They are beautiful and comfortable, ”she said in the summit conference center, which is surrounded by steel fences.
But her friend Lucette Wood (30) from Edinburgh disagreed.
“They may not do anything about it, but they pretend they do … and they’re just going to postpone it for 20 to 30 years,” said Wood.
Whether as a tactic to increase pressure on governments or to reject the negotiations, Thunberg’s negative speech about the two-week summit, which still has a week to go, has met with approval both inside and outside the summit. Heads of government and negotiators say they are as aware of the urgency of their task as protesters as time passes to curb fossil fuel pollution before the earth faces much higher warming.
Marcher Jason Cook, 54, came to Glasgow with two friends and all three wore helmets that said “blah”.
Like other demonstrators, Cook repeated Thunberg’s words: “We don’t want to hear any more bla, bla, bla,” he said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was one of many global leaders who recognize Thunberg’s proposition as they defended governments’ progress in promising emissions cuts and climate finance.
Elizabeth May, a Canadian MP and 16-time participant in UN climate talks, joined protesters in Glasgow on Saturday.
“The protests make an overwhelming difference,” May said. “Most of the people inside are here in their hearts and sometimes physically.”
In the vast UN conference venue, negotiators have teamed up with nearly 200 nations for a seventh day in a row to finalize draft agreements that can be submitted to government ministers for political approval next week. Among the issues that are being haggled over include a renewed commitment to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), encouraging countries to re-examine their efforts more often to put pressure on lower ones Increase cuts; and provide more financial support to poor countries in adapting to climate change.
The summit’s president, Alok Sharma, told reporters he understood the protesters’ frustration.
“I think we have made progress overall,” Sharma said on Saturday. “I think people were constructive in the negotiating rooms.”
“We’re getting to the point where the rubber hits the road, where we have to make tough decisions,” he said of government officials. “I by no means underestimate the difficulty of the task ahead of us.”
Saturday’s marches drew a range of participants and age groups, the day after tens of thousands of young people from the Fridays for Future movement protested outside the fences of the Glasgow conference. Thunberg’s mixture of school strikes, blunt and impatient talk about state excuses and mass demonstrations has triggered climate protests, especially in Europe, since 2018.
The climate protest movement – and the worsening droughts, storms, floods, forest fires, and other disasters around the world this year – have shown many the accelerating damage of global warming and maintaining pressure on governments to take stronger and faster action to reduce fossil fuels to seize 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 must press for action.
“We can’t let the young people do all the work here. We all have to do it together, ”she said.
In Istanbul, climate protesters brought their children to the demonstration on Saturday, emphasizing the effects of global warming on future generations.
“I want my children to live on a beautiful planet in the future,” said Kadriye Basut, 52, in Istanbul.
Danica Kirka in London, Seth Borenstein in Glasgow and Andrew Wilks in Istanbul contributed to this report.