Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Glasgow on Saturday to demand stronger climate action from world leaders as the climate crisis summit reached its midpoint.
Protests also took place in London and other parts of Britain. There were rallies in South Korea, Indonesia, the Netherlands and France. Environmental groups, charities, climate activists, trade unionists and indigenous peoples all joined the Glasgow march in heavy rains. Extinction Rebellion activists disguised themselves as Ghostbusters while another group, Scientist Rebellion – wearing white lab coats – blocked the King George V Bridge, one of the city’s busiest roads.
Organizers said more than 100,000 people showed up for the march, which started at Kelvingrove Park in the west of the city and ended at Glasgow Green in the east.
Lucy Bell, who works for Vegan Kind, a Rutherglen-based online vegan supermarket, said: “There are so many people here from different backgrounds. It is easy to get discouraged by the negotiations going on behind closed doors, but I am optimistic. The Cop26 delegates were also scattered among the huge crowds. Tracy Sonny, 37, negotiator from Botswana, said he was participating to show solidarity and call for more unity. “We need to see more political will and a change in mindset… we are already feeling the impact of climate change; we have to react now, people are drowning, ”he said. The mood was “festive, positive and impactful,” according to Mary Martin of Coatbridge. She was “taking the step,” she said, shivering against the strong wind. As for the progress of the climate talks, “I’m holding my breath,” she said.
In London, thousands of protesters, including trade unionists, refugee rights groups, students and environmentalists, marched from the Bank of England to Trafalgar Square, beating steel drums, chanting ‘a solution’ and holding Extinction Rebellion banners saying “tell the truth”.
Cop26 delegates focused on nature yesterday, with a slew of promises from UK supermarkets pledging to halve their impact on the natural world.
Partnerships between developed and developing countries to conserve biodiversity and initiatives to promote sustainable agriculture were announced, while the governments of 26 countries including India, Germany, Australia, Ghana and Vietnam have made new commitments to make their agricultural policies less polluting. They also agreed to invest in scientific research on how to protect food supplies from the effects of the climate crisis.
“We are moving towards low carbon and high nature,” said Tony Juniper, president of Natural England. “Sometimes there was a feeling of compromise, trying to sacrifice nature while embracing low carbon. They were considered separate, but there is more and more evidence showing people how you can do both. Juniper pointed to recent reviews which have shown how clean water, clean air, food and a healthy environment are not being valued adequately in today’s economy. systems. “Now we have a different conversation about nature – we can see the economic necessity, the social necessity to protect nature, as well as the ethical and moral drivers. “
Developing countries coming to Glasgow could learn a lesson from the scars of industrialization all around the UK, the pollution of mountainous areas, the theft of forests and other natural habitats and the toxic legacy of ancient mines, Juniper added. “They can skip those dirtiest development stages we’ve been through and go straight to sustainability.” He also rejected the idea that switching to a low-carbon lifestyle would involve sacrifices. “The way I would view it is not to think of sacrifice but of gain. We gain human health, well-being, social cohesion. We are winning jobs, peace and security.
Actor Idris Elba warned policymakers and the media that they risk ignoring a continent “which is at the heart of the solution” to climate change if they do not include African voices in the public debate. The star of Thread and Luther, accompanied by his wife Sabrina, joined a panel on sustainable food production during the climate talks. The couple are both goodwill ambassadors for the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development. Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate was also present.
When asked why it was important for the voices of people of color to be heard as the world tries to decarbonize food production, Elba replied, “I think Sabrina and I are here first as a human beings, but absolutely, yes, it is important for us as proud Africans to be part of this debate.
As the conference enters its final week, Boris Johnson urged delegates “to drive for the line.”
“We have seen countries show ambition and action to help limit rising temperatures, with new commitments to reduce carbon and methane emissions, end deforestation, phase out coal and provide more funding to countries most vulnerable to climate change, ”he said. “But we cannot underestimate the task at hand to keep 1.5 ° C alive. Countries must return to the table this week ready to make bold compromises and ambitious commitments.”
Additional reports by Jonathan watts, Matthew Taylor and Weronika Strzyżyńska