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Climate and Environment

Protesters demand climate action in global rally

Patrick Galey, Kelly Macnamara - Agence France-Presse
Protesters demand climate action in global rally
People participate in a protest rally during a global day of action on climate change in Glasgow on November 6, 2021, during the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference. Glasgow was on Saturday bracing for a second day of protests against what campaigners say is a lack of urgency to address global warming after Greta Thunberg labelled the crunch UN climate summit there a "failure". From Paris to Sydney, Nairobi to Seoul, more than 200 events are planned worldwide to demand immediate action for communities already affected by climate change, particularly in the poorer countries in the South.
AFP/DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS

GLASGOW, United Kingdom — Tens of thousands of protesters braved rain and wind in Glasgow Saturday as part of worldwide demonstrations against what campaigners say is a failure of crunch UN climate talks to act fast enough to tame global warming.

Dozens of events were planned worldwide to demand cuts in fossil fuel use and immediate help for communities already affected by climate change, particularly in poorer countries.

In Glasgow, police earlier said they expected up to 50,000 people to parade through the streets. Organisers later claimed more than 100,000 had turned out.

Demonstrators marched close to the COP26 summit venue and through the centre of the Scottish city on Saturday in a colourful protest with music and dancing.

"No more coal! No more oil! Keep our carbon in the soil!" chanted protesters.

Some carried placards calling for "Climate Justice" and a "Fair COP" as they made their way to a park on the edge of the city in the afternoon.

"We need the biggest emitters to be held responsible," Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, from the Marshall Islands, told the crowd.

"We did nothing to contribute to this crisis, and we should not have to pay the consequences."

Keeping up the pressure

Glasgow is hosting delegates from nearly 200 countries for the crucial UN talks, tasked with hammering out how to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting temperature rises to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius.

During the first week of the meeting, some countries have upgraded their existing pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while there have been separate deals on phasing out coal, ending foreign fossil fuel funding, and slashing methane.

But many thorny issues remain and many protesters on the streets said they were there to keep up the pressure.  

Jill Bird, 66, who had travelled to Glasgow's march from Bristol, was among a group of people dressed in white jumpsuits with "greenwash busters" backpacks.

She said she wanted to see rich nations live up to their pledge of providing $100 billion annually to vulnerable nations that "keeps being promised and promised and promised and doesn't actually materialise".

Widespread demos

Swedish campaigner Greta Thunberg said the summit had gone nowhere near far enough in a speech at Friday's youth march in Glasgow, where she labelled the conference "a failure".

She did not speak at Saturday's rally, but sent a tweet in the evening saying the global protests sent "a clear signal to people in power at COP26 to protect people and planet". 

"Our so-called 'leaders' aren't leading — THIS is what leadership looks like!" she said over a photograph of crowds of demonstrators in Glasgow. 

A pre-COP26 estimate from the UN said that national climate plans, when brought together, put Earth on course to warm 2.7C this century.

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.

And a major assessment last week showed global CO2 emissions were set to rebound in 2021 to pre-pandemic levels.

Protesters took to the streets in cities across the world to demand more radical action. 

Earlier in Australia demonstrators dressed as lumps of coal and Prime Minister Scott Morrison -- a vigorous mining advocate.

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

About 1,000 people gathered in London outside the Bank of England with placards reading "Less talk more action" and "No More COP outs".

Protesters gathered outside Paris city hall carried a giant banner that said: "Climate inaction = crimes against the living."

And in Denmark, public broadcaster DR said several thousand people turned out.

'Words not enough'

Security had been boosted for Saturday's march, but it had a party atmosphere and wrapped up in the late afternoon with few incidents.

"Thousands of us are marching right across the world today to demand immediate and serious action," said 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."

COP26 negotiations will pause 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. 

Dan Blumgart, 33, was at London's protest holding a "Mars sucks, save Earth" placard. 

"I really like the planet we live on and I want it to be, you know, able to keep it okay to live on," he said.

CLIMATE CHANGE

CLIMATE CRISIS

COP26

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 26, 2022 - 5:15pm

Bookmark this page for updates on the United Nations climate summit, known as COP26. Photo courtesy of AFP/Tolga Akmen

May 26, 2022 - 5:15pm

Australia will present a more ambitious UN emissions target "very soon" and is bidding to co-host a COP summit with Pacific island neighbours, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Thursday, signalling a ground shift in climate policy.

During a first solo overseas visit since her centre-left government was sworn in, Wong admitted that on the climate, "Australia has neglected its responsibility" under past administrations.

She told hosts in Fiji's capital Suva that there would be no more "disrespecting" Pacific nations or "ignoring" their calls to act on climate change.

"We were elected on a platform of reducing emissions by 43 percent by 2030 and reaching net-zero by 2050," Wong said. — AFP

March 29, 2022 - 3:31pm

Countries have proposed to hold an extra biodiversity meeting in Nairobi in June as talks in Geneva tasked with saving nature entered their final day Tuesday without an agreement.

In a document uploaded on the conference website, dated Monday, countries suggest holding a new meeting in the Kenyan capital between June 21 and 26 to "continue negotiations" on the document and other issues. 

The decision is subject to official approval by the Geneva meeting before it wraps up later Tuesday. — AFP

November 15, 2021 - 7:25am

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday hails a global accord to speed up action against climate change as "truly historic" and "the beginning of the end for coal power".

But he says his "delight at this progress" at the UN COP26 summit in Glasgow was "tinged with disappointment" because of a failure to secure the agreement of all countries to phase out hydrocarbons.

"Those for whom climate change is already a matter of life and death, who can only stand by as their islands are submerged, their farmland turned to desert, their homes battered by storms, they demanded a high level of ambition from this summit," says Johnson. — AFP

November 13, 2021 - 6:02pm

A UN climate summit text on Saturday urges nations to accelerate the phase-out of unfiltered coal and "inefficient" fossil fuel subsidies, after large emitters tried to remove the mention of polluting fuels. 

The text, which comes after two weeks of frantic negotiations at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, omitted any reference to specific finance for "loss and damage" -- the mounting cost of global heating so far -- which has been a key demand of poorer nations.

The mention on Saturday of fossil fuels was weaker than a previous draft, which called on countries to "accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels". — AFP

November 13, 2021 - 9:11am

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeals to richer countries to stump up more money to secure a breakthrough, exposing a central fault line at the marathon talks. 

Developing economies led by India have balked at demands to do more to curb emissions without promised financial support to transition away from fossil fuels, and to adapt to the accelerating impacts of climate change. — AFP

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