Worldwide protests against lack of action of world leaders at COP26

Huge koala screaming between protestors
Blinky, the smoking screaming four-meter high koala puppet, Melbourne, Australia November 6, 2021, photo: Extinction Rebellion Australia/via Reuters

People all over the world protested on Saturday against the lack of action of world leaders during the first week of the UN climate change conference COP26 in Glasgow.

The ‘Global Day of Action for Climate Justice’ saw young and old in cities all over the world demanding to be taken seriously in this climate crisis.

A week of government speeches and pledges at COP26 brought promises to cut deforestation, slash emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane and phase out coal.

But protesters expressed frustration at “climate inaction” and “empty words” of world leaders. They’re not impressed by the commitments made by governments during the COP26 conference’s first week, and many of the pledges are voluntary or set deadlines decades away.

The promises made at COP26 are non-binding, and governments in the past have made climate change pledges that they haven’t fulfilled, protestors said.

“A goal that’s actually something, rather than saying net-zero by 2030 or 2040 or 2070 whatever bring it forward. Ten years, 20 years. We can do a lot of damage in 20 years,” 21-year-old protestor Patrick McCleave from Belfast said.

The primary purpose of the COP26 summit in Glasgow is to keep alive a target of capping global warming at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels – the limit scientists say would avoid its most destructive consequences.

The conference is held in Glasgow, where thousands of people, including famous climate activists Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate, walked the streets on Friday and Saturday.

Protestors held banners reading ‘No Planet B’, ‘Capitalism is killing the planet’, ‘Climate change is worse than homework’ and chanted: “If not now, when?”

“Scientists have done what they need to do. They’ve told us about the problem. Young people have done what they need to do by calling attention to this issue,” Natalie Tariro Chido Mangondo, a Zimbabwean climate advocate, said. “And it’s just up to our leaders to get their act together.”

Sixteen-year-old Beth Donaldson said young people were done with empty promises from world leaders. “We see on the TV all these political leaders saying they’re going to take action, but we never see what action they’re actually going to take,” she said. 

“I’m hoping that today will make a change,” said Zara, aged 9, who joined the march with her mother. “I’m hopeful planting more trees could happen. And more animals.”

PR event and blah blah
The COP26 conference has failed, and it is no secret, Swedish Greta Thunberg said. She said the COP26 has just turned into “a PR event,” where leaders are giving beautiful speeches and announcing commitments and targets, while the governments of the “global north countries” are still “refusing to address climate action.”

“The leaders are not doing nothing. They are actively creating loopholes and shaping frameworks to benefit themselves and to continue profiting from this destructive system,” Thunberg said.

“A two-week-long celebration of business as usual and the blah blah blah. The most affected people in the most affected areas still remain unheard. And the voices of future generations are drowning in their greenwash and empty words and promises, she said. “We don’t need any more distant, non-binding pledges. We don’t need any more empty promises.”

“We don’t need any more commitments that are full of loopholes and incomplete statistics and that ignore historical emissions and climate justice,” she added.

Thunberg pointed out that world leaders had 26 COPs: “They’ve had decades of blah blah blah. And where has that led us? Over 50 percent of all our CO2 emissions have occurred since 1990 and about a third since 2005.” 

“Many schools are being destroyed because of extreme weather events. I need someone to tell me how to explain to farmers who are losing their crops and farms because of droughts and floods that seem to never end,” Ugandan Vanessa Nakate said.

“We must demand that our leaders treat the climate crisis like a crisis. We must demand that our leaders stop holding meaningless summits and start taking meaningful action,” Nakate told the crowd in Glasgow.

“The climate crisis means hunger and death for many people in my country and across Africa,” she said earlier on a panel at a COP26 news conference with British actor Idris Elba.

“Change is what is happening outside, what young people are doing, organizing… climate strikes. That is where the change is,” Nakate said.

Tens of thousand protesters walked through the streets of Amsterdam in the Netherlands to join Saturday’s protest across the world against climate change.

“I believe that if we don’t act now, we will reach a point of no return, and biodiversity will get lost”, a protestor said. Other protesters held signs with messages like ‘Think about my future’, ‘Eco not ego’ and ‘What does my future look like’.

Climate activists organized a demonstration in Istanbul in Turkey as part of the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice. Protestors held signs that read ‘The blood of the world is on your hands’, ‘If you choose not to save our future, you have blood on your hands’ and ‘It’s happening now’.

Thousands of climate activists and demonstrators gathered in Trafalgar Square in front of a stage where speakers demanded action to deal with climate change, holding banners that said ‘Planet over Profit’, ‘Climate solutions, not climate pollution’ and ‘This march will fail, this movement won’t’.  

The rally started from the Bank of England and moved along the streets of central London, reaching Trafalgar Square.

Extinction Rebellion activists blocked the Rue de la Loi road in Brussels on Saturday as part of the European Day of Action for climate change.

Some activists attached themselves to street furniture or cars, while others laid down side by side, covering themselves with sheets and flowers. 

They chanted phrases like “Animals die, climate change kills’ and had a banner reading ‘I love my children, don’t you?’ and ‘Structural solutions now!’

Activists and Seoul residents in South-Korea urged more action to combat climate change as world leaders continued the COP26 meeting in Glasgow.

More than 1,000 people demonstrated in Sydney and Melbourne to protest against the government’s climate policies and the strategies it offered at the UN climate summit.

Australian climate activists marched with giant dead koala float, illustrating what will happen to the animal if climate change issues aren’t dealt with.

Australia has rejected the global methane pledge, and campaigners and pressure groups have not been impressed by the commitments of other world leaders.

Animal rights groups and climate activists held a protest Saturday in the center of Barcelona to demand a transition towards a food system that’s not based on animal meat, which is a significant factor affecting climate change.

“We did a Nonviolent Direct Action to ask world leaders who decide on our future at COP26 to promote a transition to a plant-based food system,” Animal Rebellion Barcelona said on Twitter.

Dubliners want the Irish government to take serious action to address the climate crisis, with banners that read ‘System Change not Climate Change’ and ‘Climate Justice = Social Justice”.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Paris to demand meaningful action from world leaders. Demonstrators held banners and signs, performed stunts and chanted slogans in front of the French capital’s city hall.

“Today, we do not need announcements, promises and commitments. We need concrete action. How will they do it, country by country, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the most important sectors?” the head of Greenpeace France, Jean-Francois Julliard, said during the march in Paris.

“I hope that things are going to change. First of all, coming here allows me to see that I am not alone in worrying about the future, and it gives me a bit of hope,” Mia Rety, a 17-year-old protestor, said.

“But I also hope that things will change at a higher level, because at my own level, there isn’t much I can really do. I know that things can happen at a higher level but nothing is happening so far,” Rety added.

“I am 73 years old, and I can see that we are leaving an extremely dangerous world to our children. I have children, grandchildren, some in Canada, and we can see that our leaders, even though they attend COPs, are not implementing the necessary measures against global warming and in favour of peace,” 73-year-old Marie-Claire Gourinal said. 

Climate activists called for ‘Revolution’ as they marched through Switzerland’s largest city Zurich.

Mexico City
A demonstrator during the climate protest in Mexico City held a sign reading, “Sorry for the inconvenience, we are worried about our imminent extinction”.

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