Global Protests Demand More of Climate Conference

Glasgow demonstration is accompanied by events around the world
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2021 5:30 PM CDT
Thousands March to Pressure Climate Conference for Action
Protesters rally in Glasgow at the UN climate conference on Saturday.   (Andrew Milligan/PA via AP)

(Newser) – More than 100,000 protesters unhappy with the progress made by the UN climate conference filled the streets of Glasgow on Saturday, calling for fewer promises and more change. Companion rallies were held in cities around the world, including London, Dublin, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Athens, Zurich, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Istanbul, and Melbourne. Demonstrators represented an array of other causes, the New York Times reports, such as unions, religious organizations, and advocates for racial justice. "Leaders rarely have the courage to lead," said a Ugandan activist in Glasgow. "We must demand that our leaders stop holding meaningless summits and start taking meaningful action."

Marchers in Glasgow dealt with driving winds and rain. Some doubted they were heard by the negotiators. "This is a very easy thing for them to ignore," one demonstrator said, per the AP. "They’re nice and comfortable" in the conference center. The messages on their signs included "Code Red for Humanity," "Stop big polluters," and "I'm angry." Signs around the world quoted activist Greta Thunberg's opinion that the climate talks were just "blah, blah, blah." A member of Canada's parliament who's been to 16 UN climate conferences joined the Glasgow protest. She said the message is being received. "Most of the people on the inside are here in their hearts and sometimes physically," Elizabeth May said.

Alok Sharma, president of the summit, said he gets the frustration. "I think we have overall made progress," Sharma said Saturday. "I think people have been constructive in the negotiating rooms." But the negotiators and the activists are dealing with different time frames. The earliest goals being set in the meetings have deadlines around 2030. The people outside want the changes now. "Now is the time. Yesterday was the time," one activist said. A protester from Samoa agreed the steps are small, but she's seen a flood-control project at home implemented with international help. "I wouldn’t say next year let's cancel COP," Brianna Fruean said.

Organizers said there were at least 300 marches around the world on Saturday, per the Washington Post. An Indigenous activist from the Philippines said she knew of demonstrations at home, as well as protests in Indonesia and India. A group of Malaysian elders was performing a ritual for the Earth, Beverly Longid said. "This is something the whole world must do," she said. “And after today, we hope the marches will not stop." (Read more UN climate summit stories.)

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