Party and protest at COP26

12th November 2021

Rally pic

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Chris Seekings

Up to 100,000 protesters gathered for a mass rally at Glasgow Green to vent their frustrations with government inaction on climate change following the first week of COP26.

Protestors rally at Glasgow Green

After marching through the city and causing widespread travel disruption, the crowds stood for hours in the harsh wind and rain to listen to performances from musicians from across the globe, with chants of, “what do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!” bellowing across the park.

Ugandan activist, Vanessa Nakate, told the gathering stories of how extreme weather is devastating crops and destroying schools in vulnerable communities around the world.

“The droughts and floods seem to never end, and leaders continue to open up new coal power pants, construct oil pipelines, and frack gas, without paying attention and listening to the voices crying out for help because of the destruction that is happening.

She continued: “Leaders have failed to understand that we cannot eat coal, we cannot drink oil, and we cannot breathe so-called natural gas!”

Nakate slams government inaction on climate change (left). Indigenous people call for end to colonialism (right)

Members of the Minga Indígena network of indigenous communities from the Americas also took to the stage to perform traditional songs and dances, calling on governments to show respect for the people whose homelands and natural habitats have been ravaged by foreign occupiers.

Minga Indígena network calls for respect for indigenous communities

Young climate activist, Flow, aged 22, who travelled all the way from Cornwall to protest, and is a member of her local Extinction Rebellion group, summed up the mood: “People feel like the only way they can let their voices be heard is to shout and scream.

“We need to put indigenous people at the front line of all these talks and make sure their voices are heard. We also need see a re-shift in all of our global systems, like our food system, and the decarbonisation of all our systems. But the main thing is that we need to stop burning fossil fuels.”

Flow, 22, calls for climate justice

And it was not just young people who had travelled to Glasgow to let their voices be heard. Isabella, aged 67, who travelled from Bristol as part of the Earth Vigil group for COP26, said: “We know what we need to do, but emissions are continuing to go up, and politicians are not paying enough attention.

“We need to divest from fossil fuels and change now across construction, agriculture, all sectors, and the poorest countries must be paid the money they were promised, and more, because they are suffering now – it's unspeakable what is happening, and I am desperate about the state of the planet.

Speaking specifically about the conference, she added: “There is the most enormous battle between good people trying their best and genuinely meaning it, and people who are just getting on the bandwagon and talking the talk but not walking the walk, and we just don't know which way the outcome will fall.”

Contrasting views from Glasgow Green

Environmental groups, charities and trade unionists joined forces for the protest, organised by the COP26 coalition, a UK-based civil society coalition of groups and individuals calling for climate justice, system change, and decentralisation of power.

Similar demonstrations took place in at least 20 other countries across the world.

Warning illuminates a monument in Glasgow city centre


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