Swedish activist Greta Thunberg on Friday called the UN climate summit in Glasgow a “failure” during a massive protest in the Scottish city demanding faster action from leaders to address the emergency.
Thunberg said that promises by some nations made during COP26 to accelerate their emissions cuts amounted to little more than “a two-week celebration of business as usual and blah, blah, blah.”
“It is no secret that COP26 is a failure,” he told thousands of people at the protest.
“This is no longer a climate conference. This is now a global greenwash festival. ”
Delegates from nearly 200 countries are in Glasgow to discuss how to meet the Paris Agreement targets of limiting temperature increases to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius.
The first week of talks saw countries announce plans to phase out coal use and end foreign financing of fossil fuels, but there were few details on how they plan the massive decarbonization that scientists say is necessary.
The pledges followed a major assessment that showed global CO2 emissions will rebound in 2021 to pre-pandemic levels.
“They cannot ignore the scientific consensus and they cannot ignore us,” Thunberg said.
“Our leaders are not leading. This is what leadership looks like, ”he said pointing to the crowd.
Activist groups plan two days of demonstrations to highlight the disconnect between the glacial pace of emissions reductions and the climate emergency that is already flooding countries around the world.
Spectators at Friday’s march lined the streets and leaned out windows to watch the stream of protesters, holding up banners reading “No to Planet B” and “Climate Action Now.”
“I am here because world leaders are deciding the fate of our future and the present of the people who have already been affected by the climate crisis,” said 18-year-old Valentina Ruas.
“We will not accept anything that is not real climate policy focused on climate justice.”
Students were in the force, with some schools allowing students to skip lessons to watch the march and a young green warrior holding a sign that read, “Climate change is worse than homework.”
Experts say that the commitment made during the summit of high-level leaders at the beginning of COP26 by more than 100 countries to reduce methane emissions by at least 30 percent this decade will have a real, short-term impact on the global warming.
But environmental groups pointed out that governments, particularly wealthy polluters, have a habit of failing to deliver on their promises.
Vanessa Nakate told the crowd that people in her native Uganda were “being erased” by climate change.
“People are dying, children are dropping out of school, farms are being destroyed,” he said.
“Another world is necessary. Another world is possible “.
‘Assume the responsibility’
The countries came to COP26 with national climate plans that, when joined, put the Earth on course to warm 2.7 ° C this century, according to the UN.
With only 1.1 ° C of warming so far, communities around the world are already facing increasingly intense fires and droughts, displacement and economic ruin caused by the global warming climate.
“Scientists have done what they have to do, they have told us about the problem. Young people have done what they have to do by drawing attention to this issue, ”said Natalie Tariro Chido Mangondo, a gender and climate advocate from Zimbabwe.
“And it is up to our leaders to act together.”
Activists say they expect up to 50,000 protesters in the Scottish city on Saturday as part of a global round of climate protests.
A Scottish Police spokesman said “fewer than 20 arrests” had been made as of Friday night, mainly for public disorder offenses.