COP26 protesters in Glasgow push for action from leaders

Biden slams China, Russia over climate commitment ahead of COP26 Summit in Scotland

President Biden heads to Scotland following his trip to Rome where he will lay out the U.S plan for climate

Protesters in the tens of thousands braved rain and gusts to march through Glasgow, host of a United Nations climate summit, part of what organizers said would be a coordinated global demonstration pushing for more action from governments to curb global warming.

Police had blocked off swaths of the city, and organizers said by late afternoon the march and rally drew some 100,000 participants, in a city with a population of about 600,000.

Protests on Saturday came at the end of the first of two weeks of climate talks by world leaders and representatives from almost every country on Earth.

Protesters, decked out in raincoats and jackets, had started gathering in the late morning in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park. By early afternoon, thousands of marchers had descended on the city center. With darkness falling amid a downpour in the late afternoon, speakers were addressing throngs of participants.

Demonstrators were expected to include indigenous leaders from the Amazon, national trade unions and environmental groups, along with high-profile climate-change campaigners such as Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. They plan to march to the city center, where a rally there was expected around 3 p.m. local time.

A similar march and rally on Friday, headlined by Ms. Thunberg, took aim at the U.N. climate summit, called COP26. Ms. Thunberg has called it a talking shop with few concrete accomplishments to show for itself.

“I think there’s some really good statements” coming from governments during the summit, said Tess Humble, a protest organizer from a group called COP26 Coalition. “But it doesn’t take much to see there’s a whole load of greenwashing.”

TOPSHOT – Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg speaks during a climate strike demonstration of Fridays for Future in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 22, 2021. – Sweden OUT (Photo by Erik SIMANDER / TT News Agency / AFP) / Sweden OUT (Photo by ERIK SIMANDER/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by ERIK SIMANDER/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)

U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry, in a press briefing Friday, said there would be lots of work still to do after the conference. But, he said, “what we’ll also have is a level of ambition, and a statement of goals and a capacity to get where we need to go that we’ve never had before.” The U.K., the summit’s host, has said it welcomes the protests.

Climate demonstrations were expected to take place Saturday in other U.K. cities including London and Manchester, and events were planned in France, Australia and Canada.

The protest comes at the end of the first of two weeks of talks by world leaders and representatives from almost every country on Earth aimed at agreeing to several measures to accelerate efforts to curb climate change. Countries have wrangled over specific emissions-cutting targets aimed at bringing greenhouse-gas emissions to levels scientists hope will limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial-era temperatures.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain November 1, 2021. Evan Vucci/ Pool via REUTERS
(Reuters/Evan Vucci)

They are also negotiating financial support the developed world has promised poorer countries to help them transition from fossil fuels and mitigate damage from climate change.

While talks continue on those high-profile goals, countries have signed more-limited pledges among smaller, like-minded coalitions, promising to fight deforestation, for example, reduce coal use and end financing of overseas oil and natural-gas projects.

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