Tens of Thousands Rally in Rainy Glasgow for Climate Action Amid UN Summit

'Capitalism is killing the planet,' banners read, as protesters marched through the Scottish city calling for bolder action on climate crisis

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People hold up signs and banners during a protest as the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) takes place, in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, on Saturday.
People hold up signs and banners during a protest as the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) takes place, in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, on Saturday.Credit: HANNAH MCKAY/ REUTERS
Lee Yaron

GLASGOW – Tens of thousands of protesters set off from a Glasgow park Saturday to march through the city hosting the UN climate conference and demand bolder global action.

Students, activists and climate-concerned citizens bundled up against the damp cold, linking arms as they moved west from the city's Kelvingrove Park toward the central George Square.

Carrying red flags and banners reading "Capitalism is killing the planet," an energetic crowd of youths – some with bullhorns – blamed companies for the climate crisis and chanted calls in favor of socialism while punching their fists in the air.

Elsewhere in the crowd, dozens of Scottish national flags, waved in the wind. Still others called attention to climate justice and vulnerable farmers.

Climate activists attend a protest organized by the COP26 Coalition in Glasgow, Scotland, on Saturday.Credit: Scott Heppell,AP

Protesters pointed to how exploitative capitalism, overpopulation, and hyper-consumerism has lead to humanity using 74% more resources than the planet's ecosystems can generate every year.

One protester said government's commitments for 2030 and 2050 were "not good enough," accusing politicians of acting in the interests of wealthy corporations and for the purpose of securing votes for their next election. 

A few blocks away at the COP26 meeting, which has been underway since Monday and runs for another week, speakers sounded the alarm on how global warming is ravaging farmlands and threatening food security.

A week of government speeches and pledges so far has included promises to phase out coal, slash emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane and reduce deforestation. But activists have said the meeting so far is showing too little evidence of progress.

Extinction Rebellion activists protest on Muizenberg Beach in Cape Town, South Africa, on Saturday.Credit: Nardus Engelbrecht,AP

On one stage at the conference, actor Idris Elba acknowledged that he had few credentials to speak on climate change, but said he was at COP26 to amplify the climate threat to global food security.

Sitting on the same panel, climate justice campaigner Vanessa Nakate of Uganda implored the world to stop burning fossil fuels, the main cause of rising global temperatures.

"We are watching farms collapse and livelihoods lost due to floods, droughts and swarms of locusts," she said - all of which scientists say are being exacerbated by climate change.

"The climate crisis means hunger and death for many people in my country and across Africa."

Asked about her influence in the climate talks, Nakate noted the protest outdoors.

"Change is what is happening outside, what young people are doing, organizing climate strikes. That is where the change is," she said.

Civil society leaders and representatives from companies like Unilever and PepsiCo spoke at the conference about corporate responsibility in making trade and commerce less of a burden on nature.

Speaking about using satellite technology to monitor global landscapes, the director and founder of Google Earth Outreach urged better stewardship of the world's forests.

"We don't want to be writing the obituary of our planet in high resolution," Rebecca Moore said.

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