COP26 Protesters Back an Array of Causes, Connected by Climate Change
transcript Do something! Now! Climate justice! Now! Get up. What? Get down. What? Keep your carbon in the ground. Get up. What? Get down. What? Keep your carbon in the ground. Get up. What? Get down. What? Keep your carbon in the ground. [marching band music] Save our planet. Save our planet. Save our planet. Cop-out. Greenwash. Cop-out. When I say greenwash, you say cop-out. Greenwash. Cop-out. Tell me can you feel it? Tell me can you feel it? Getting louder by the hour. Getting louder by the hour. and GLASGOW Defying biting wind and steady rain, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Glasgow on Saturday in noisy and colorful protests, calling on global leaders to take action drastic enough to match the scale of a climate crisis already wreaking havoc on parts of the globe. Waving banners, beating drums and chanting, an array of demonstrators including members of trade unions and faith organizations, as well as left-wing groups took over large parts of the Scottish city, which is hosting the . By midafternoon, a long, winding line of protesters was making its way through the city, and by late afternoon they were still streaming into Glasgow Green, a city park, to hear speeches from activists. The protest illustrated how the battle to curb climate change had become an umbrella for a growing protest movement that aims to put global leaders under pressure for a broad range of causes, including racial justice and income equality. We should not underestimate the significance of how the climate movement has broken through into the mainstream in the last two years because its really starting to change peoples consciousness, said Feyzi Ismail, a lecturer in global policy and activism at Goldsmiths, University of London. I think it is more important than whats going on inside the COP meeting because its applying the kind of pressure thats needed to force governments to act, but also to take far more radical positions than they might have, she added. The police did not provide an estimate for the size of the crowd. Organizers said that more than 100,000 people took part, and while that was not possible to verify independently, the gathering was sprawling and extensive; at one point the procession took more than an hour to pass a fixed location. Many of the protesters said they were motivated by a connection to their own lives. Flooding is happening, and it is going to keep happening, said Alexandra Bryden, 63, an upholsterer and curtain maker from Auchterarder, north of Edinburgh, who said that her workshop had been flooded and that she worried about the future of her family members who live by the coast. According to some organizers, more than 200 events were planned around with the world, with more than half of that number in Britain. In London thousands marched from the Bank of England to Trafalgar Square, and there were protests in other British cities including Birmingham and Bristol. In Paris, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in front of City Hall, where activists held up portraits of world leaders they accused of doing too little to curb global warming. The leaders names, including President Biden and President Emmanuel Macron of France, were read out and then booed by the crowd. . But the focus on Saturday was in Glasgow, where authorities closed off several dozen streets to manage the protests. People are coming out in this weather to say we have had enough of this, said Robert Dickie, 64, a retired accountant from Hamilton, Scotland, near Glasgow, wearing a kilt and speaking after playing the bagpipes. Things have got to change before we all become extinct and that is what is going to happen in the long term, he said. By mid afternoon, the storms had lifted, a rainbow appeared briefly, and helicopters hovered overhead. A massive crowd cheered as a number of Indigenous activists from the Americas took the stage and demanded that world leaders prioritize the protections of their ancestral lands. In Glasgow there was some confrontation with police, who said they removed protesters who blocked a bridge and were containing another group following an escalation in their conduct. The protests related to COP26, the United Nations climate summit, peaked on Friday and Saturday, drawing tens of thousands of people to Glasgows streets. Heres what I saw Fridays youth-led demonstration was organized by Fridays for Future, the movement that has grown out of Greta Thunbergs 2018 school strike for climate change. At one point, Ms. Thunberg addressed the crowd, The activists want more than just reduced emissions. They say they also want an acknowledgment of the including inequality and poverty. an activist from Namibia, also spoke on Friday. On Saturday, braved the soggy Scottish weather to march in protest, snaking through a park and the streets of central Glasgow. There were also dozens of solidarity marches around the world. Among the protesters was John MacEachen, 50, who came to the march with his 10-year-old son, his wife and their friends from Edinburgh. Standing in the rain, he said this was the first time he had participated in an environmental protest. The time was right to get involved, he said, I dont normally do these, he said. But I thought, I cant look back in 10 years time, 20 years time, and say Ive done nothing. See more news from COP26: But despite the poor weather there was an uplifting mood for the most part at Saturdays march, which was the culmination of smaller protests that took place during the week around the city. They included organized by the group Fridays for Future, an international movement that grew out of Greta Thunbergs solo school strike in 2018. She addressed the crowd on Friday and described COP26 as a failure. The first week of the saw new pledges to tackle deforestation and to move away from coal. At least 105 countries to reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, by 30 percent this decade. Major financial institutions said they would mobilize trillions of dollars to help shift the global economy toward cleaner energy. Still, experts say that, to avert the worst effects of climate change, temperature rise needs to be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, between preindustrial times and the end of this century. And that goal is not within reach even if all countries fulfill their current pledges. Like many environmental groups, protesters in Glasgow were skeptical of pledges, doubting that such promises would be delivered and arguing that, in any case, they did not go far enough to solve an urgent global problem. There are going to be communities on the Scottish coast that will be cut off. It is real, said Ms. Bryden, the upholsterer. I cant look my grandson in the eye. I am sorry about what he is going to have to put up with in the future. Bel Burn, 59, a retired health worker from Cumbria, in northern England, said she was protesting because she opposed intensive agriculture and described how she had bought 20 acres of land, on which she planned to plant 4,200 trees. They havent gone far enough, she said referring to global leaders. They have agreed a lot of this stuff before, why would we believe its going to be different this time? Stuart Graham, a Glasgow trade union official and a member of the COP26 Coalition that organized the protests, said he hoped the march would bolster campaigns for free public transportation and for a huge program to insulate and improve the citys housing stock. Its critical that we have a civil society with a powerful voice to hold these leaders to account, he said. Organizers argue that the bewildering range of groups with different agendas are united by a common commitment to what they call climate justice. Katia Penha, one of the activists, who is also part of the Quilombola community, a group of Black rural residents in Brazil, said her community has been affected by mining and wants its challenges to be acknowledged alongside Indigenous communities that are disproportionately affected. We came here to tell the world: Without us the Quilombolas people in Brazil its not possible to have debate about climate change, she said, pointing out how a Quilombola people and wiped out communities. Elsewhere, vegan activists carried balloons of a cow and a chicken with the message, Thank you for not eating us. On a hillside, a group spelled out Amazonia Forever with strips of cloth above the image of a butterfly, calling attention to the destruction of the rainforest. Ms. Ismail, the Goldsmiths lecturer, said that the question for the protest movement was whether it could extend its influence by combining with trade unions and persuading workers to use the threat of strikes to push forward a coherent agenda. But she said it had made strides already. The protest movement is the only thing that is going to change the situation, Ms. Ismail said. If there is no pressure, there will be no change. Aurelien Breeden contributed reporting from Paris. is London correspondent, writing widely about Britain, including the countrys politics and relationship with Europe. is a correspondent on the International Desk in London, covering the United Kingdom and Ireland. She has been with The Times since 2016.