Up to 30,000 protesters poured on to the streets of Glasgow on Friday as part of the global climate strike as the Cop 26 climate conference continued. The angry march was made up overwhelmingly of young people.
Climate activist Greta Thunberg spoke at the end of the march in George Square. She said, “Cop26 is a failure. We can’t solve the problem of the climate crisis with the same methods that got us into a crisis in the first place.”
“Cop is now just a PR event. It shouldn’t be known as Cop. Instead, it should be known as the global north greenwash festival.
“World leaders are in a bubble with their dreams of economic growth and tech solutions.
“But the facts don’t lie. We need to cut emissions immediately, drastically, and for this, we need to change society fundamentally.”
Greta ended her speech with a message for the climate movement. “They can’t ignore us. They cannot ignore our screams. I’m tired of their blah blah blah. You are what real leadership looks like.”
Among the other speakers at the rally was Chris Mitchell, the GMB union convenor of the striking cleansing workers. “Climate justice and social justice are one and nobody will be left behind.
“Everybody here is fighting for the future—you are the future.”
Activists who had travelled from around the world to join the protests at Cop26 joined the march.
Felipe, an Extinction Rebellion (XR) activist from Portugal, told Socialist Worker that Portugal had, like other countries, pledged to be net-zero by 2050. But it has recently announced it will open 14 new coal projects.
“We’ve lost faith in politicians and the governments to solve this problem,” she said.
“Big corporations have no incentive to change. It’s always profit over people.”
“Ordinary people need a say in this. We need citizens’ assemblies that could give people a voice.
“Workers are an important part of this. This should be a strike if everyone, every layer of society, should be striking with us.”
After Thunberg’s call to workers to join the march on Friday, a significant bloc of GMB union activists attended.
Trade unionists from the Unite, Unison and PCS unions greeted climate strikers as they marched into George Square.
Rodney travelled from the Philippines to attend the protest. He told Socialist Worker that climate change is causing increasingly frequent weather disasters. “Eight years ago, typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines. Unfortunately, 1,000 people are still missing,” he said.
“It was rising temperatures in the Pacific Ocean that made the typhoon into a super typhoon.
“But the losses and damages that the typhoon caused were not a priority.”
Marcher Eva said Cop26 reveals inequality. “When I saw that world leaders were flying in on private jets, I couldn’t believe it. I was so angry. They aren’t even hiding that they don’t care about the climate,” she said.
Placards on the march included ones that read “planet over profit”, “burn borders not coal”, and “every second our leaders don’t act. They fail us”.
Alex, a PCS union activist, told Socialist Worker he had been building the trade union turnout for the Cop26 protests.
“As reps, we’ve been going round to rank and file members and talking about just how important these protests are. Sometimes there’s this idea climate policies are just a job for the tops of unions, but we need to say this isn’t true,” he said.
“Climate change will affect everything about workers’ lives.
“There’s this old fashioned idea from some unions that fighting for climate justice will take jobs away from workers.
“But we don’t just want any jobs. We want better jobs, less polluting jobs and greener jobs.”
The massive protest in Glasgow on Friday showed a movement that is becoming increasingly angry at politicians’ inaction and is demanding fundamental change.
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