Activists take to the streets of cities across the UK including Glasgow where the UN climate conference is being heldCop26 protests: Tens of thousands demand action on climate change
Climate protests have got under way across the UK and Ireland to urge action at crucial Cop26 international talks taking place in Glasgow.
Protesters braved pouring rain and winds to march through the Scottish city where the UN climate conference is being held, while other marches are taking place in central London and in other cities around the UK.
In Glasgow, thousands of climate activists, trade unionists, politicians and other groups were part of thousands of marchers massed in and around Kelvingrove Park ahead of the procession through the city to Glasgow Green, amid a significant police presence and despite forecasts of heavy rain for most of Saturday.
A fire engine, women covered in moss and Poseidon on stilts have all turned out for the protest in Glasgow, while a group of children guided a display featuring what appeared to be a large snake wearing glasses through Kelvingrove Park.
In London, thousands of protesters marched over a mile west from the Bank of England towards Trafalgar Square, where they said they were due to be joined by Labour and Green MPs.
Climate protests have also kicked off across the island of Ireland, with hundreds of people gathered at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin for one of the main demonstrations.
In Northern Ireland, protesters congregated in Belfast ahead of a noisy and colourful march through the city centre before a planned rally at City Hall.
In total, some 200 events are taking across the UK and around the world, organisers the Cop26 Coalition said.
The marches come after thousands of youth activists, including Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate marched through Glasgow on Friday protesting against investment in fossil fuels and failure to tackle the climate crisis.
Ms Thunberg called the Cop26 conference, where countries are meeting in a bid to increase ambition on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, “a global north greenwash festival, a two-week long celebration of business as usual and blah blah blah”.
The latest demonstrations come midway through the Cop26 summit, which has seen world leaders gather to set out the action they are taking and commit to curb deforestation, phase out coal, end funding for fossil fuels abroad and cut methane emissions.
But there is still a significant gap between the measures countries have committed to and what is needed to avoid more than 1.5C of warming, beyond which the worst floods, droughts, storms and rising seas of climate change will be felt.
Countries are under pressure to agree a process to increase ambition in the next decade, as well as deliver finance for developing countries to cope with the crisis and finalise the last parts of how the global Paris Agreement on climate change will work.
As the protests take place, negotiations continue at Cop26, while the conference is also focusing on the role of nature, land use and agriculture in tackling climate change on Saturday.
Idris Elba: Don’t ignore Africa in climate debate
Actor Idris Elba told the conference that policy makers and the media risk ignoring a continent “that is central to the solution” of climate change if they do not include African voices in public debate.
The Luther star and his wife Sabrina joined a panel on sustainable food production at the Cop26 climate talks on Saturday.
The couple are both goodwill ambassadors for the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development. Also present was Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate.
Asked why it was important that the voices of people of colour are heard as the world attempts to decarbonise food production, Elba replied: “I think Sabrina and I stand here as human beings first, but absolutely yes it is important for us as proud Africans to be a part of this debate.”
Referring to an incident in January 2020 when Ms Nakate was cropped from a photo of high-profile climate activists at Davos, he continued: “(The media) are not just cutting out Vanessa, they are cutting out a whole continent, and that continent is very central to this debate, very central to the solutions.”
Elba added: “Yes it is important we have everyone of colour speaking up in this debate because it is Africa that is right in the centre.”
Ms Nakate said that she now seizes every opportunity to speak up for the global south, saying: “I don’t know when I will get that platform again.”
“People of colour are on the front lines of the climate crisis and it is important for us to tell our own stories and it is important for the world to listen to our stories,” she said.
She added: “The global south is on the front line of the global climate crisis, of the food crisis, but it is not on the front pages of the world’s newspapers.”