| 6.2°C Dublin

Feet on the street ramp up pressure as ‘tense’ talks lie ahead at COP26

Close

Activists from Friends of the Earth during a demonstration calling for an end to all new oil and gas projects in the North Sea outside the UK Government's Cop26 hub during the Cop26 summit in Glasgow. Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Activists from Friends of the Earth during a demonstration calling for an end to all new oil and gas projects in the North Sea outside the UK Government's Cop26 hub during the Cop26 summit in Glasgow. Jane Barlow/PA Wire

People demonstrate during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 7, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

People demonstrate during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 7, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

A man in a costume reacts as he demonstrates during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 7, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

A man in a costume reacts as he demonstrates during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 7, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

People demonstrate during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 7, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

People demonstrate during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 7, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Climate activists holding a demonstration in George Square during the Cop26 summit in Glasgow. Picture date: Sunday November 7, 2021. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Climate activists holding a demonstration in George Square during the Cop26 summit in Glasgow. Picture date: Sunday November 7, 2021. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

/

Activists from Friends of the Earth during a demonstration calling for an end to all new oil and gas projects in the North Sea outside the UK Government's Cop26 hub during the Cop26 summit in Glasgow. Jane Barlow/PA Wire

OUTSIDE in the driving rain with posters disintegrating and banners battling the wind, more than 100,000 people marched to tell Cop26 leaders their actions on climate were not good enough.

Indoors, dry but not necessarily comfortable, the Cop president tentatively tiptoed towards managing expectations.

It was the second day of large-scale demonstrations in Glasgow where the critical UN climate talks are about to enter their second week.

The young Fridays for Future school strikers led a crowd of some 25,000 supporters through the streets last Friday, accompanied and addressed by their founder and hero, Greta Thunberg.

On Saturday, that number soared as a massive crowd gathered in a rally before walking a three-mile route through the city in a colourful procession of pageantry and protest replicated in 200 cities around the world.

Close

People demonstrate during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 7, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

People demonstrate during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 7, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

People demonstrate during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 7, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Meanwhile formal negotiations were continuing at the Cop26 venue a couple of kilometres away and the daily press conference brought a mix of hope, caution and diplomatic phrasing.

Cop26 president, Alok Sharma, whose circus juggling job it is to keep the talks moving and crack whips where meetings are slow to reach resolution without jeopardising any progress, was asked about the young demonstrators in particular and their contention that the summit was already a failure.

Close

A man in a costume reacts as he demonstrates during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 7, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

A man in a costume reacts as he demonstrates during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 7, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

A man in a costume reacts as he demonstrates during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 7, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Sharma chose his words judiciously. “I completely understand and recognise the frustration and anger that I have seen and heard from young people,” he said.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

"I think it is right that they make the point that, as countries’, as parties’ and as world leaders’ commitments are made, what they want to see is delivery and this is the Cop where we need to see delivery.

“There were promises made in Paris so, if Paris promises, Glasgow must deliver.”

Next question.

Well, the next question is, will it deliver?

Pauline Sharp and Ailsa Short were adamant it must.

Carrying cardboard signs with the slogan “Grannies against political fannies”, they travelled from Dundee to tell the international delegates to get cracking.

“It’s not about us - we’re not going to be around to see the damage that’s going to be done,” said Pauline.

“But I’m a new grandmother – I have four-month-old twin grandchildren. I’m doing it for them, I’m doing it for everybody’s grandchildren.”

Ailsa, who has a granddaughter aged two and a half, felt the same. “I don’t want to have to be worrying about what will happen in the future for her,” she said.

Close

People demonstrate during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 7, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

People demonstrate during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 7, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

People demonstrate during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 7, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

“I don’t want to still be out doing this in ten years’ time. We need something done now.”

Back inside, Sharma was counting the years too. “I do not underestimate the difficulty of the task which is ahead of us,” he said when asked to predict how this coming week would go.

“We have been discussing a whole range of these issues for six years without resolution. I think that shows just how challenging this is.”

More excuses, said Mary from Bristol, part of a group dressed in homemade Ghostbusters costumes going around the streets ‘greenwash-busting’.

“Greenwashing is being done by the government, by the banks, the big oil companies, other fossil fuel companies and just general big business,” she said.

“They don’t want to change so we’re going to have to force them to. What they’re doing at the moment is saying it will take a long time to change - it’s a discourse of climate denial. We have to say it’s not good enough.”

As the press conference continued, Sharma turned to his lead negotiator, Archie Young, to help give a sense of how the talks were going.

“It’s tense right now,” said Young.

Back at the march, four-year-old Saad Boutrid was the perfect tension-breaker as dozens of officers lined barricades to channel the already heavily policed procession through a junction.

“Horseeee, horseeee,” he squealed in delight, springing up and down at spotting the mounted unit.

Close

Climate activists holding a demonstration in George Square during the Cop26 summit in Glasgow. Picture date: Sunday November 7, 2021. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Climate activists holding a demonstration in George Square during the Cop26 summit in Glasgow. Picture date: Sunday November 7, 2021. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Climate activists holding a demonstration in George Square during the Cop26 summit in Glasgow. Picture date: Sunday November 7, 2021. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

“He is here thinking about his future,” joked his dad, Mouadh Boutrid.

But Mouadh, a meteororologist from Algeria now living in Glasgow, was thinking about his little boy’s future.

“All governments should do more. We are destroying ourselves by our own hands. We must be responsible for our kids’ futures,” he said.

“He has a long life ahead,” he said, darting to steer Saad back in line as he ran around in excitement, “and I am worried for him.”

Back on dry land, British prime minister Boris Johnson wrapped up the day with another warning that the talks were no walk in the park

“We cannot underestimate the task at hand to keep 1.5 degrees alive,” he said of the summit’s ultimate aim of preventing global temperature rise breaching 1.5 degrees.

“Countries must come back to the table this week ready to make the bold compromises and ambitious commitments needed.”

On that point at least, protestors and politicians are of the same mind.


Related topics


Most Watched





Privacy