Climate activists march through Glasgow in Cop26 ‘failure’ protest

Demonstrators say there has not been enough progress to tackle climate change in the past year

Climate protesters march through the city centre in Glasgow, Scotland. Getty Images
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Activists have condemned what they called the “failure” of the Cop26 summit, a year on from the event and days before Cop27 begins in Egypt.

A demonstration, organised by Fridays For Future Scotland, saw participants march through Glasgow in Scotland where last year's climate summit was held.

The route mirrored the group’s demonstration during Cop26 on November 5 last year.

Traffic was stopped by the police as protesters marched towards the city centre holding signs reading “the kids are not alright”, “there is no planet B” and “people over profit”.

A rally was then held, and speeches were heard.

Organisers said the purpose of the march was “to highlight the failures of Cop26, as well as the UK government’s ‘greenwashing’, and the links between the climate crisis and the cost-of-living crisis”.

The march comes on the day that Rishi Sunak, the new prime minister of the UK, was forced to defend his decision not to attend this year's event, Cop27 in Egypt.

Mr Sunak insisted he was still committed to the climate cause, but needed to focus on domestic issues. He is currently battling an economic crisis left behind by his predecessor Liz Truss.

It also emerged on Friday that Downing Street had advised King Charles not to attend Cop27, arguing it is not the “right occasion” for him to make the trip.

Number 10 conceded for the first time on Friday that the king had been urged not to attend the UN conference in Sharm El Sheikh.

King Charles is a long-term campaigner against the climate crisis but Downing street said it was “unanimously agreed” he would not attend.

Demonstrators take part in the Fridays for Future Scotland march through Glasgow. PA

Downing Street had previously refused to comment on a Sunday Times report that said Liz Truss had told the king not to go during a meeting in Buckingham Palace in September, while she was still prime minister.

But, on Friday, a spokeswoman said: “As is standard practice, government advice was sought and provided under a previous PM, and it was unanimously agreed that it would not be the right occasion for the king to visit in person.

“I’m not aware that that advice has changed but obviously any confirmation of the king’s travel would be for the Palace.”

Fridays For Future Scotland is a group of young people under 25 who have been organising school, college and university strikes to protest against climate inaction since January 2019.

Niamh Gill, 16, one of the organisers behind the Glasgow demonstration, said: “We’re here for climate justice, we’re here for the people in the most affected places and areas. We’re here for the failures of Cop26.

“And we’re here for the anger at the system that we have, because the system is causing these crises — it’s causing the climate crisis, it’s causing the cost-of-living crisis.

“We’re here for an undemocratic system that puts billionaires like Rishi Sunak in power when we never voted for them.

“Not enough has been done, and not enough is being done. Things are getting worse and no one is listening to us. It’s a disgrace.”

Rishi Sunak arrives at the Cop26 Summit in Glasgow in 2021. Getty Images

Ms Gill said demonstrators want to show they are “appalled” at a system that “exploits and oppresses people all over the world”.

Fellow event organiser Amy, who did not want to give her full name or age, said: “We’re here today, a year on from Cop26, to say that we’re not accepting the empty promises that were made a year ago, and we’re certainly not going to accept them in a couple of weeks at Cop27.

“We want to spread the message that we’re angry that our futures are being sold off to the highest bidder for short-term benefits, for all these causes that in 10, 20 years have killed us off, and no one’s got any benefit from it.”

Last year’s Cop26 event saw a goal set to prevent the average global temperature rising more than 1.5°C compared with levels before the Industrial Revolution.

At the close of the talks, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said the outcome of Cop26 was “a step in the right direction”, with a new global agreement — the Glasgow Climate Pact — being set to reduce the worst impacts of climate change.

However, a United Nations report this week showed pledges by countries to cut greenhouse gases will see the world warming by around 2.5°C — well above agreed targets to limit dangerous climate change.

UN climate chief Simon Stiell warned that while there has been some progress this year, countries are “still nowhere near the scale and pace of emissions reductions” needed to limit temperature rises to 1.5°C over this century.

Updated: October 28, 2022, 3:45 PM