25,000 climate change activists march in Glasgow

On Friday 5 November, an estimated 25,000 climate change protestors marched through Glasgow, expressing their discontent with perceived inaction on climate change by world leaders present at the COP26 climate change convention.

Many marchers were also critical of market-based solutions to climate change, alongside the disproportionate impact that climate change has on people living in the global south.

The protest was headlined by the Fridays for Future school strike movement, founded by climate activist Greta Thunberg, though other civil society groups from around Scotland participated as well.

The protest consisted largely of primary school, secondary school, and university students, with most students at the protest skipping Friday classes to attend the march.

The protest march’s route took it from Kelvingrove Park to George Square, via Kelvin Way, Sauchiehall Street, Argyle Street, St Vincent Street, Pitt Street, West George Street, and George Street.

The protests were largely peaceful and orderly, a marked departure from protests the day before which saw Extension Rebellion protestors allegedly contained on St Vincent Street by Police Scotland officers.

Friday’s march is set to be the second largest protest action to take place during COP26, with the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice on Saturday 6 November set to involve approximately 50,000 people, all marching from Kelvingrove Park to Glasgow Green.

Once the end of the march had entered George Square, several speakers from the climate movement and other social movements took turns speaking to the crowd.

The first speaker was Chris Mitchell, a Glasgow area GMB trade union convenor who has recently become famous on social media for his energetic displays of support for potential strike action by GMB bin and school workers against Glasgow City Council.

During his time on the stage, Mitchell spoke supportively of the marchers, as well as his own trade union, ending his time by starting a chant amongst the crowd of “[s]tand with us, not against us.”

Many of the speakers who followed were climate activists from various countries in the global south, who made appeals for any potential future solution to the earth’s climate crisis to be fair and equitable for people everywhere.

One such speaker, Nina Sotinsky, the founder of Youth for Climate, described the consequences of climate change on her country.

“Last year, approximately 1.5 million acres were burned; I have no doubt that every fire is political, and that droughts – which are becoming and will be more frequent – are also political.

“We could endlessly continue mentioning concrete data and examples of subjugation in most vulnerable sectors.

“We could write volumes about it.

“There is a common denominator that I cannot fail to mention.

“These injustices arise from an extractive and withering production system, and they are replicated not only in Tucumán, but also in Argentina, in Latin America, and so all the global gouth.”

The last speaker was Fridays for Future leader Greta Thunberg, who focused the brunt of her speech on a perceived lack of action by world leaders at COP26.

When describing the event, Thunberg said:

“It is not a secret that COP26 is a failure.

“It should be obvious that we cannot solve a crisis with the same methods that got us into it in the first place.

“And, more and more people are starting to realize this.

“Many are starting to ask themselves what will it take for the people in power to wake up.

“But let’s be clear: they are already awake, they know exactly what they are doing.”

She further elaborated:

“This is no longer a climate conference; this is now a global north greenwash festival.

“A two week long celebration of business as usual and ‘blah, blah, blah’”

After Thunberg completed her speech, the day’s events came to a close, with the vast majority of the marchers vacating George Square.

Many secondary and university students who attended the march were eager to have their voices heard.

Becca Malik, a university student studying in Edinburgh, when asked why she chose to show up to the march, said:

“Mainly for the clock, because all of the leaders aren’t doing enough and it’s all empty words, they’re greenwashing – we have to make a stand.”

Eve Mckenna, another Edinburgh-based university student, added:

“We’re f***ed if we don’t cut back”.

Freddie, a student at the University of Glasgow, reflected on the significance of the march, saying:

“It’s such a big movement, and I think everyone needs to take the responsibility and have this conversation about climate change, and that’s why I’m here, because I want to be a part of that conversation.”

Ada, a secondary school student studying in Edinburgh, was excited to be a part of the march, saying:

“I just want to stand up for the climate, and stand up like everybody else.”

Image: Joe Sullivan

By Joe Sullivan

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