Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets around Britain on Saturday to demand stronger climate action from leaders in the midst of the Cop26 talks.
In Glasgow, where the UN climate conference is being held, organisers said up to 100,000 had braved pouring rain and wind to put the city at the heart of a Global Day for Climate Justice involving protests across the globe.
The demonstrations marked the halfway point for Cop26 – the most important UN climate summit since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.
“Another world is still possible,” Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate told the Glasgow crowd. “The words and promises of leaders do not match their actions.
“Leaders continue to build new coal power plants, construct oil pipelines and frack gas without paying attention and listening to the voices crying out for help.
“We remain hopeful because another world is possible. Together, we can make this happen. Strength and hope is our way forward.”
She was followed by representatives of the Pacific Climate Warriors from the Marshall Islands who chanted: “We are not drowning, we are fighting.”
A landmark climate report published in August found that every region in the world is facing increasing weather extremes as a result of human-driven global heating.
The first week of Cop26 saw new global commitments on ending deforestation, phasing out coal and slashing emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
But it is clear that more action will be needed if global temperatures are to be limited to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the aspiration of the Paris Agreement.
More than a dozen researchers, from a group called Scientist Rebellion, were among those protesting in Glasgow on Saturday.
Dressed in lab coats and chained together at the neck, the group blocked off Glasgow’s King George V bridge for three hours before 21 arrests were made.
Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie of Police Scotland said the day had “passed largely without incident” and had been “generally good natured”.
Indigenous leaders from across the world led crowds from Kelvingrove Park to Glasgow Green.
Chants referenced the interconnections between the climate crisis, racial injustices and inequality. “Decolonise, system change not climate change,” protesters shouted.
In Glasgow Green, crowds gathered under a large illuminated sign reading “loss and damage,” a term used to describe the inevitable costs of the climate crisis.
“We did nothing to contribute to this crisis and we should not have to pay the consequences,” said Kathy Jetnil-Kijner, a representative of the Pacific Climate Warriors from the Marshall Islands.
“We’re looking at extreme solutions just to be able to remain on our islands. Reclaiming land, elevating land and the cost will be tens of billions of dollars. We can only adapt so far before there’s irreversible loss and damage.
“We refuse to leave. But we do need collective action. We need the biggest emitters to be held accountable.”
In London, thousands of protesters gathered at the Bank of England for the start of a march through the city, banging steel drums, chanting “one solution” and waving Extinction Rebellion banners reading “tell the truth”, before marching to Trafalgar Square.
Volkan Aran, 48, a project manager from Stoke Newington, north London, who attended with his daughter, Aylin, four, on his shoulders and his wife Psin Dumus, 43, said: “We don’t accept any delays, any further talking and debates, we just want everything to start happening now, because what they (politicians) are doing is very different from what they are telling us.
“They cannot fail us again, they cannot cheat us with their declarations and we want it to be happening now for this generation, it’s their future.”
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