People took to the streets in more than 300 protests today on every continent in the world, demanding climate action and justice.
The biggest event was in Glasgow, which is hosting the COP26 climate talks. Organisers estimated that more than 100,000 people joined a march and rally, despite driving rain and strong winds.
Across the UK, there were more than 100 other protests in towns and cities including London, Cardiff, Manchester, Penzance and Leeds.
There was also a demonstration outside an onshore oil site in Surrey, which is the subject of a legal challenge about carbon emissions, to be heard at the appeal court later this month.
The coordinators of the day of action, the COP26 Coalition, said global temperature rise must be limited to 1.5C. Anything above this would cause catastrophic change.
The coalition criticised the target to reach net zero by 2050, a key ambition of the climate talks. This did not mean zero emissions, it said. Net zero would allow continuing pollution covered-up by carbon offsets. Instead, the coalition said:
“We need commitments and action to achieve real zero.
“That also means no new fossil fuel investments and infrastructure at home or abroad, and saying no to carbon markets, and banking on risky unproven technologies that allow countries and corporations to continue polluting.”
Political and economic systems also had to be “rewired”, the coalition said, to address injustices, poverty and inequalities.
In Glasgow, people joined the march from across the UK and from many parts of the world.
Asad Rehman, of the COP26 Coalition, told a rally at Glasgow Green:
“Many thousands of people took to the streets today on every continent demanding that governments move from climate inaction to climate justice. We won’t tolerate warm words and long-term targets anymore. We want action now
“Today the people who have been locked out of this climate summit has their voices heard – and those voices will be ringing in the ears of world leaders as we enter the second week of negotiations.
“The climate crisis has resulted from our broken, unequal societies and economies. We must transform our global economies into ones that protect both people and our planet instead of profit.”
Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, the Marshall Islands climate envoy to the United Nations, said:
“We need the biggest emitters to be held responsible. We need financing to implement the solutions we are currently developing ourselves through our national adaptation plan. We contribute 0.00005% of the world’s global emissions – we did nothing to contribute to this crisis, and we should not have to pay the consequences.
“We need to keep up the pressure that COP26 doesn’t allow offsets or endanger human rights and the rights of indigenous people.”
There were also speeches from the activists Mitzi Jonelle Tan, from the Philippines, and Vanessa Nakate from Uganda, as well as representatives from campaign groups and trades unions.
Photo credits (clockwise from top left): Save Out Streams Biscathorpe and North Kelsey; COP26 Coalition/Thomas Hermann; COP26 Coalition/Thomas Hermann; COP26 Coalition/Ana Pessoa; COP26 Coalition/Oliver Midia; COP26 Coalition/Oliver Midia; Human Exploring Society; COP26 Coalition/Oliver Midia; RSPB. Click on individual pictures to enlarge
Elsewhere in Glasgow, about 20 members of Scientist Rebellion, all wearing lab coats, blocked the King George V bridge, one of the main routes through the city. The protesters, all scientists ranging from students to a retired professor, chained themselves together.
The group said:
“As scientists with a deep understanding of the crisis we´re in, we have a moral duty to act. Over 15,000 scientists declared that we´re in a climate emergency, but most aren’t acting as if it´s an emergency.
“We´re taking this action to encourage others, scientists and all people, to rise up in rebellion against the system that is killing everything. This COP has failed, just like the previous 25 COPs have failed, and we cannot rely on our leaders to save us anymore.”
The US special presidential envoy, John Kerry, tweeted:
“I am so inspired by the young people taking action @COP26 and around the world. Their passion and leadership have brought us to this moment in Glasgow– it is past time for #ClimateAction to secure their future.”
Campaigners, including WI members, marched from outside the Bank of England to a rally in Trafalgar Square. Organiser Camille Barbagallo said:
“London’s financial district is the engine room of the climate crisis. It is destroying working class communities across the globe and owes them a huge debt.
“At COP26, we need to see those debts finally settled. Join us outside the Bank of England as we come together to put a spanner in the works.”
In Manchester, Martin Empson, from the Manchester COP26 Coalition Local Hub, called for a new sustainable economy and climate justice:
“Manchester was where the industrial revolution really kicked off. In mills and factories across the city, the first carbon capitalists began the creation of a world economy reliant on fossil fuels in pursuit of massive profits.
In Leeds, speakers at a rally in Millennium Square included unions and campaign groups and the Leeds East MP Richard Burgon.
The Wildlife Trust of Beds, Cambs & Northants was part of the march through Cambridge. The organisation said it was “sending a clear message to world leaders at COP26 that nature needs our help”.
In the Welsh capital, marchers gathered outside Cardiff City Hall for a march to the Senedd, the Welsh parliament building.
Outside the Horse Hill oil site in Surrey, campaigners said their message was:
“There is no future in fossil fuels. We want the government to keep them in the ground, both here and abroad, and set about a just transition to clean green energy.”
Across the world
Photo credits: Paris COP26 Coalition/Francois Dubreuil; Seoul COP26 Coalition/Junghee Min; Turkey COP26 Coalition/Harun Toptan; Netherlands COP26 Coalition/Bas van Est
An estimated 40,000 people marched through Amsterdam in the largest ever climate rally in the Netherlands.
The Belgian section of Extinction Rebellion blocked the Rue de la Loi in Brussels. There was a sit-down protest in the South Korean capita, Seoul.
In Paris, protesters held a minute’s silence for victims of the climate crisis, while in Freetown, Sierra Leone there was dancing for climate justice.
About a thousand protesters were reported to have gathered at Hyde Park in Sydney before marching to Circular Quay. There were also events in Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaid, Perth and Wollongong. A rally in the Philippines had ended before protesters began marching in Glasgow.