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 the talks and instead demanding immediate action to slow global warming.

The mood at the demonstration in Glasgow was optimistic despite the anger and the gusts of rain. Similar protests also took place in London, Amsterdam, Paris, Dublin, Copenhagen, Zurich and Istanbul.

Many protesters condemned government leaders for failing to produce the swift action they deem necessary, with some echoing activist Greta Thunberg’s opinion on Friday that the talks were simply more ‘blah, blah, blah’ .

“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, referring to complaints that the Glasgow summit too limited public participation. “How can we expect to make a decent policy when the people who are the speakers 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.

“It’s a very easy thing for them to ignore. They are nice and comfortable “inside the summit conference center,” she said, which is surrounded by steel fences.

But her friend Lucette Wood, 30, from Edinburgh disagreed.

“They might not do anything about it, but they claim they do… and they’ll put it off for 20 to 30 years,” Wood said.

Thunberg’s dismissive speech on the two-week climate summit – which still has a week left – struck a chord inside and outside the summit site. Government leaders and negotiators insist they are just as aware as walkers of the urgency of their task, with time running out to curb fossil fuel pollution before Earth faces much higher levels of warming.

Jamila Khatoon from Pakistan carried a sign in Glasgow about three glaciers in her region that could disappear due to climate change.

“The glaciers are melting,” Khatoon said. “The villages are drowning. Nobody does anything.

Elaine Knox, 69, and William Oliphant, 60, both of Glasgow, said they were attending the rally for generations to come.

“I die before the worst happens,” Knox said. “These are the young people that we leave a horrible and horrible world.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose country hosts talks, has championed progress governments are making in pledging emissions cuts and climate finance, while acknowledging public demands that more needs to be done.

In the huge UN conference hall, negotiators have spent a seventh straight day haggling over draft deals that can be forwarded to government ministers for political approval next week. Among the issues under discussion included a new commitment to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), prompting countries to review their efforts more frequently to increase the pressure for deeper cuts, and providing more financial support for 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.”

“We’re getting to the point where the rubber hits the road, where we’re going to have to make, you know, tough decisions,” by government officials, he said. “I 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 fuels. fuel emissions.

Elizabeth May, Canadian MP and 16-time UN climate talks participant, said the protests are making a difference.

“Most of the people inside are here in their hearts and sometimes physically,” said May, who joined protesters in Glasgow on Saturday.

In central London, thousands 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.

“We cannot 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 protest on Saturday, highlighting the impact of global warming on future generations.

“I want my children to live on a beautiful planet,” said Kadriye Basut, 52, in Istanbul.


Danica Kirka in London and Andrew Wilks in Istanbul contributed to this report.


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