By Sophie Squire
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2780

Rage at world leaders’ climate inaction at Cop26 fills streets of Glasgow

Radical demands for system change dominated the Cop26 protests
Issue 2780
A crowd shot shows a sea of people on the streets of Glasgow

A crowd shot shows a sea of people on the streets of Glasgow

Up to 100,000 angry protesters raged against the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow on Saturday.

The day of action began with disruption in the city as protesters blocked bridges.

Javier, who had travelled from Spain, “locked on” to other activists to block the road. He told Socialist Worker, “This kind of direct action is the best way to get our voices heard and to rebel against the system. 

“If those in power don’t solve their problem, we will keep going with these disruptive actions.” 

Kelvingrove Park, where the march gathered, was filled with protesters. Jenny, a primary school student, told Socialist Worker, “It’s sad seeing what big companies are doing to the Earth

“A lot of people my age care about the climate. That’s why we need to protest.” 

Many of those at the demonstration had travelled thousands of miles to protest at Cop26.

Raouf is an Extinction Rebellion member who travelled from Tunisia to attend the protests in Glasgow. “Chemical pollution is a massive problem in Tunisia,” he told Socialist Worker. “Every day 16,000 tonnes of harmful substances, including uranium, are dumped in the sea. 

“This is having an impact on people’s health, and a lot of people are dying from cancer. 

Raouf said that social movements—including the climate movement—have grown in the north African country in the wake of the 2011 revolution. “After the revolution, we didn’t want to be quiet anymore,” he explained.

“Finally, people are starting to wake up, especially after being confronted with hotter temperatures. Last summer, temperatures got up to 51 degrees celsius—that’s hard to ignore.” 

Activists from Sudan, India, Palestine and Uganda also joined the demonstration.

Enas, a Sudanese activist, told Socialist Worker, “The situation in Sudan has been exacerbated by climate change. Conditions which led to the Sudanese revolution of 2019 were made much worse by flooding, which was almost unheard of in a country that is mostly desert. 

“The floods killed people and made others climate refugees.”

She added, “It’s also important to say that all of the world leaders that have tried to get their imperialist claws into Sudan will be attending Cop26.”

Her delegation chanted, “Civilian rule for Sudan,” throughout the march.

And Indian activists marched in solidarity with Indian farmers, who have revolted against Narendra Modi’s hard right government.

The slogans on the march were radical—and placards that linked climate crisis to capitalism were common.

Many trade unionists turned out, including from the Unison, GMB, NEU, EIS and UCU unions.

Margaret, a Unison activist, told Socialist it was essential to argue for “a just transition and greener jobs”. “Workers don’t feel like they have their voices heard,” she said. “But joining protests like this is how we do it. 

“We need more young people that are passionate about fighting climate change in trade unions. 

“And we need to tell them that, when we organise together as workers, this is when we are most effective.” 

Margaret said the trade union movement must continue to deepen links with the climate movement after Cop26.

Eva, a socialist student from Edinburgh, agreed. “In the climate fight, it’s us against them,” she told Socialist Worker. “Workers need to take hold of things. The climate is very fragile, but those in power won’t do anything to save it because of the privileged position they are in. 

“We need a different kind of society, and as socialists on these demonstrations we need to be saying that.

“We also need to say that revolution is how we get there.” 

The protests in Glasgow show the depth of the anger against the climate inaction at Cop26.

More protests are planned in the coming days—and a People’s Summit organised by the Cop26 Coalition will begin on Sunday.

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