Glasgow is gearing up for the second day of protests against what activists say is a lack of urgency to tackle global warming after environmental activist Greta Thunberg called on the UN climate summit crunch in the UK a “failure”.
From Paris to Sydney, Nairobi to Seoul, more than 200 events are planned around the world on Saturday to demand immediate action for communities already affected by climate change, particularly in the poorest countries of the South.
In Glasgow, organizers and police said they expected up to 50,000 people to parade through the streets of the Scottish city near the COP26 summit venue, which is under tight security.
Delegates from nearly 200 countries are in Glasgow to discuss how to meet the Paris Agreement targets of limiting temperature increases to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius (xxx to xxx Fahrenheit).
Midway through the COP26 negotiations, some countries have pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, with separate agreements to phase out carbon, end foreign funding for fossil fuels, and drastically reduce methane.
The pledges followed a meaningful assessment that showed global carbon dioxide emissions would rebound in 2021 to pre-pandemic levels.
But activists have been left unimpressed by the summit so far.
“They can’t ignore the scientific consensus and they can’t ignore us,” Thunberg said.
“This is no longer a climate conference. This is now a global greenwash festival. “
‘We want more’
In Australia on Saturday, more than 1,000 protesters in Sydney and Melbourne, some dressed as lumps of coal or Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a vigorous advocate for the mining industry, called the talks “a sham” and their national leader “a absolute shame. ” .
“No more blah blah blah. Real climate action now, ”read a poster at a protest in Sydney.
“We are all here to show that we want more from our government,” Georgia, one of the protesters, told the Reuters news agency.
The Melbourne protest was smaller than the Sydney one, with only a few hundred people attending a rally that also featured a giant koala bear emitting plumes of smoke and protesters dressed as skeletons on bicycles.
Several smaller events were held in other parts of Australia.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s capital Seoul saw roughly 500 protesters take to the streets to demand immediate action for communities already affected by the consequences of a warming planet.
South Korea has few energy resources of its own and relies on imported coal, a cheap but dirty fuel, for about 40 percent of the electricity that powers the world’s 12th-largest economy, according to figures from the International Energy Agency.
The country aims to be carbon neutral by 2050, but local activists say the goal cannot be achieved without more fundamental changes.
“At COP26, the expected ‘blah, blah, blah’ is taking place,” said Climate Strike, one of the organizing groups for Saturday’s march in Seoul.
Security has been tightened around Glasgow’s closed city center ahead of planned demonstrations there, which are expected to attract a variety of groups, including Extinction Rebellion.
“Many thousands of us are marching around the world today to demand immediate and serious action,” Scottish activist Mikaela Loach told AFP news agency.
“We are clear that warm words are not good enough, and that the next week of talks should see a serious increase in concrete plans.”
COP26 negotiations will continue on Saturday before pausing on Sunday ahead of what is shaping up to be a frenzied week of shuttle diplomacy, as ministers arrive to push for hotly contested commitments on a number of issues.
Countries have yet to develop how the promises made in the Paris agreement will work in practice, including the rules governing carbon markets, common reporting deadlines and transparency.
Countries came to COP26 with national climate plans that, when joined, put the Earth on course to warm 2.7C (xxxF) this century, according to the UN.
With only 1.1C (xxxxF) of warming so far, communities around the world are already facing increasingly intense fires and droughts, displacement and economic ruin from global warming.
Brianna Fruean, a Samoa member of the Pacific Climate Warriors, who addressed a summit of world leaders at the beginning of COP26, said it was time for leaders to take note of protesters’ demands.
“It can’t go on like this,” he said. “We refuse to be only victims of this crisis. We are not drowning, we are fighting and on Saturday the world will listen to us ”.