Frustration grows as walkers demand faster climate action
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) – Tens of thousands of climate activists marched through the Scottish town hosting the United Nations climate summit on Saturday, physically close to global negotiators inside but separated by a vast rift in the expectations, with frustrated walkers increasingly dismissive of climate talks and instead demanding immediate action to slow global warming.
The mood at the demonstration in Glasgow was upbeat despite complaints and gusts of rain. Climate protests have also taken place across Europe, including in London, Paris, Dublin, Copenhagen, Zurich and Istanbul.
Protesters condemned government leaders around the world, saying climate talks have so far failed to produce the swift action needed. Activist Greta Thunberg on Friday condemned the talks as simply more âblah, blah, blahâ.
“We have these conversations, but there is no policy to back them up,” said Daze Aghaji, a walker from London at the Glasgow protest, shouting to the steady beat of the drums.
“And on top of that, the real people should be in the room,” said Aghaji, echoing complaints that the Glasgow summit too limited public participation. âHow can we expect to make a decent policy when the people who are the stakeholders are not even in the room? ”
The marchers held signs with messages such as “Code Red for Humanity”, “Stop the Big Polluters”, “COP26, we are watching you” or simply “I’m angry”. A sign asked “If not you, then who?” If not now, then when? “
Megan McClellan, 24, of Glasgow said she doubts climate negotiators are listening.
âIt’s a very easy thing for them to ignore. They are nice and comfortable âinside the summit conference center, she said, which is surrounded by steel fences.
But her friend Lucette Wood, 30, from Edinburgh disagreed.
âThey might not do anything about it, but they claim they doâ¦ and they’ll put it off for 20 to 30 years,â Wood said.
Whether it was a tactic to increase pressure on governments or a rejection of negotiations, Thunberg’s dismissive speech on the two-week summit – which still has a week to go – resonated with the inside and outside the summit site. Government leaders and negotiators say they are also aware as walkers of the urgency of their task as time passes to curb fossil fuel pollution before Earth faces levels of warming much higher.
Walker Jason Cook, 54, came to Glasgow with two friends and all three wore helmets with the word ‘blah’ on them.
Cook, like other protesters, echoed Thunberg’s words: âWe don’t want to hear any more blah, blah, blah,â he said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was one of many world leaders to recognize Thunberg’s phrase as they champion progress governments are making on pledging emissions reductions and climate finance.
Elizabeth May, Canadian MP and 16-time participant in the UN climate talks, joined protesters in Glasgow on Saturday.
âOverwhelmingly, the protests are making a difference,â May said. “Most of the people on the inside are here in their hearts and sometimes physically.”
Inside the massive UN conference hall, negotiators knelt for a seventh straight day of talks between nearly 200 countries to complete draft agreements that can be forwarded to government ministers for political approval next week. Among the issues being debated are a new commitment to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), get countries to review their efforts more frequently to increase the pressure for deeper cuts and provide more support. funding to poor countries to adapt to climate change.
Summit chairman Alok Sharma told reporters he understood the protesters’ frustration.
“I think we have made overall progress,” Sharma said on Saturday. “I think people have been constructive in the negotiating rooms.”
âWe’re getting to the point where the rubber hits the road, where we’re going to have to make, you know, tough decisions,â by government officials, he said. âI certainly do not underestimate the difficulty of the task ahead.
Saturday’s marches drew a range of participants and ages, a day after tens of thousands of young people from the Fridays for Future movement protested outside the Glasgow conference fences. Thunberg’s mix of school strikes, direct and impatient speeches about the government’s apology and mass protests has galvanized climate protests since 2018, especially in Europe.
The climate protest movement – and worsening droughts, storms, floods, wildfires and other disasters around the world this year – have made many understand the growing damage from global warming and kept the pressure on governments for stronger and faster action to reduce fossil 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 in danger and all generations need to push for action.
âWe cannot let the young people do all the work here. We all have to do it together, âshe said.
In Istanbul, climate protesters brought their children to the protest on Saturday, highlighting the impact of global warming on future generations.
âI want my children to live on a beautiful planet in the future,â said Kadriye Basut, 52, in Istanbul.
Danica Kirka in London, Seth Borenstein in Glasgow and Andrew Wilks in Istanbul contributed to this report.
Follow all of AP’s climate change stories at https://apnews.com/hub/Climate.