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Glasgow braces for climate protests on global day of action


— AFP/File
— AFP/File
  • From Paris to Sydney, Nairobi to Seoul, dozens of events are planned worldwide to demand immediate action regarding climate change.
  • In Glasgow, organisers and police say they expect up to 50,000 people to parade through the streets.
  • Security has been boosted around Glasgow’s locked-down city centre ahead of the planned demonstrations there.

GLASGOW: A rain-soaked Glasgow was bracing for a second day of protests on Saturday as part of a global mobilisation against what campaigners say is a lack of urgency to address global warming at a crunch UN climate summit.

From Paris to Sydney, Nairobi to Seoul, dozens of events are planned worldwide to demand immediate action for communities already affected by climate change, particularly in the poorer countries in the South.

In Glasgow, organisers 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 hammer out how to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting temperature rises to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius.

At the halfway stage of the COP26 negotiations, some countries have signed up to pledges to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, with separate deals on phasing out coal, ending foreign fossil fuel funding and slashing methane.

The promises followed a major assessment that showed global CO2 emissions were set to rebound in 2021 to pre-pandemic levels.

But activists have been left unimpressed by the summit so far, with Swedish campaigner Greta Thunberg labelling it “a failure” at Friday’s youth march in Glasgow.

In Australia on Saturday, protesters in Sydney and Melbourne — some dressed as lumps of coal or Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a vigorous defender of the mining industry — labelled the talks “a sham” and their national leader “an absolute embarrassment”.

“No more blah, blah blah. Real climate action now,” read one sign at a protest in Sydney.

South Korean capital Seoul saw around 500 take to the streets demanding immediate action for communities already hit by the fallout of a heating planet.

“At COP26, the expected ‘blah blah blah’ is taking place,” said Climate Strike, one of the organising groups of Saturday’s march in Seoul.

Michael Mann, director of Penn State’s Earth System Science Center, urged critics not to rush to judgement about the UN-led climate process.

“COP26 has barely started. Activists declaring it dead on arrival makes fossil fuel executives jump for joy,” he said on Twitter.

Security has been boosted around Glasgow’s locked-down city centre ahead of the planned demonstrations there, which are expected to draw a variety of groups including Extinction Rebellion.

“Many thousands of us are marching right across the world today to demand immediate and serious action,” said Scottish activist Mikaela Loach.

“We’re clear that warm words are not good enough — and that the next week of talks must see a serious ramping up of concrete plans.”

‘Can’t go on’

COP26 negotiations will continue on Saturday before pausing on Sunday ahead of what is shaping up to be a frantic week of shuttle diplomacy, as ministers arrive to push through hard-fought compromises.

Countries still need to flesh out how pledges made in the Paris deal work in practice, including rules governing carbon markets, common reporting timeframes and transparency.

Countries came into COP26 with national climate plans that, when brought together, put Earth on course to warm 2.7C this century, according to the UN.

With just 1.1C of warming so far, communities across the world are already facing ever more intense fire and drought, displacement and economic ruin wrought by global heating.

Brianna Fruean, a Samoan member of the Pacific Climate Warriors, who addressed a world leaders´ summit at the start of COP26, said it was time for leaders to take note of protesters´ demands.

“It can’t go on like this,” she said.

“We refuse to be just victims to this crisis. We are not drowning, we are fighting and on Saturday the world will hear us.”

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