Cop26: Climate activists gather in London to join worldwide protest

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Thousands of protesters demonstrate during a COP26 protest in central London, Britain, 6 November 2021. Protestors are demanding action from world leaders to combat the climate change crisis during the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 taking place in Glasgow. (EPA)
Thousands of protesters demonstrate during a COP26 protest in central London, Britain, 6 November 2021. Protestors are demanding action from world leaders to combat the climate change crisis during the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 taking place in Glasgow. (EPA)

Thousands descended on the capital today to march across city demanding climate justice - joining hands with the series of global rallies happening today.

Today’s Global Day of Action for Climate Justice protest in London was one of 250 marches taking place globally - 100 of which happened in the UK alone.

Protestors were demanding action from world leaders to combat the climate change crisis during the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 taking place in Glasgow.

Climate activists convened outside the Bank of England at 12pm, winding their way through St Paul’s, Fleet Street and the Strand before gathering at Trafalgar Square for a rally. The rebels marched through the city, banging steel drums, chanting “one solution” and waving Extinction Rebellion banners reading “tell the truth”.

Crowds gathered outside the Bank of England at 12pm before marching on to Trafalgar Square. (Emily Atkinson/ The Independent)
Crowds gathered outside the Bank of England at 12pm before marching on to Trafalgar Square. (Emily Atkinson/ The Independent)

The organisers, the COP26 Coalition, described today’s global events as “decentralised mass mobilisations across the world.”

“Wherever you are in the world, now is the time to join the fight for climate justice. We need all hands on deck: in workplaces, communities, schools, hospitals and across national borders,” their Call to Action reads.

An Extinction Rebellion member from north London, known as Roots, who attended with her mother and seven-year-old daughter, told The Independent: “Previously, COPs have given us target pledges and they haven’t not met any of them - so why is this one going to be any different?

Protesters march from St Paul’s towards Fleet Street. (Emily Atkinson/ The Independent)
Protesters march from St Paul’s towards Fleet Street. (Emily Atkinson/ The Independent)

“Yes - I’m sure they are going to announce some lovely statistics and X, Y, Z promises. But they don’t have the big ball players on the table and, historically, they haven’t kept to any of their targets.

Despite her criticism of Cop26, Roots remains hopeful that change is still possible in the face of the climate emergency.

“We live in hope. If the political will is there, of course it’s possible to reach the 1.5C target - but we lack the political will.

“My daughter is why we are here.”

Martin Jarvis, of the Christian Climate Action group, predicted Cop26 is set to be “a massive failure”, pinning his hopes instead on grassroots action.

“I think COP26 is going to be a massive failure, sadly - and I think the way forward from that is from grassroots level - for people to rise up and say ‘this is not good enough’.

“We’re acting or of love for the planet. This is about justice - climate justice. It’s about social justice, environmental justice, the common good of all. We’re all in this together.

“That’s why I’m here. To show solidarity and shout out as much as I can.”

Activists Brendan Bennett (left) and Martin Jarvis (right). (Emily Atkinson/ The Independent)
Activists Brendan Bennett (left) and Martin Jarvis (right). (Emily Atkinson/ The Independent)

Mr Jarvis was joined by fellow protestor, Brendan Bennett, who was attending the protest on behalf of his 14 grandchildren.

He said: “I worry about the future for my grandchildren. This is the least I can do. Otherwise, it will all be on the shoulders of our young people.”

Another protestor, Jill, was similarly marching for her granddaughter’s future.

“We want to make the leaders that are attending COP26 realise that, actually, people have not been taken in by some of the policies they have made,” she said.

“If you heard the leaders in Glasgow, you would think everything is hunky-dory, but we want action - and we want action now.”

She added: “You have got to do something because you must be hopeful about the future. I just became a Granny and I have got to march for my granddaughter.”

Activists march in front of St Paul’s Cathedral. (Emily Atkinson/ The Independent)
Activists march in front of St Paul’s Cathedral. (Emily Atkinson/ The Independent)

Members from Friends of the Earth joined many activists representing various climate and social action groups. One member, Nayyan Iffikhar, described the pledges being made by world leaders at the UN Climate Conference as “a con.”

A fellow protestor, Yaomin Ali, added: “They keep making promises - but we need action. These promises need to be implemented this instant.

Shohid Ahmed, a third member of Friends of the Earth, said: “Politicians should listen to us. There are all of these floods happening around the UK, and they are not doing anything about it.”

Hundreds of climate protesters then descended on Trafalgar Square to hold a rally.

Among the speakers was Green Party member at the London Assembly, Sian Berry, who called on the crowds to continue shouting “for a better world for everyone.”

Sian Berry addresses the crowd at Trafalgar Square. (Emily Atkinson/ The Independent)
Sian Berry addresses the crowd at Trafalgar Square. (Emily Atkinson/ The Independent)

She said: “Here in London, we are in earshot of the seat of our government, our leaders in Westminster - but are they listening? Finally, will they take the action we need? This year’s COP will decide if if that crucial limit of 1.5C of warming will survive.

“There’s a wave of self-congratulation coming from that conference hall, but it’s just not cutting it. Our leaders must stop measuring themselves against what they have done before and start living up to what is needed - to what they owe us and the world.

“We say to our leaders today: listen to us. Keep 1.5C alive.”

She continued: “It feels really desperate sometimes. I have been campaigning for this for over 20 years and I joined a movement that was over 25-years-old.

“For nearly 50 years, we have collectively been calling for action in keeping fossil fuels in the ground, in stopping the destruction of nature.

“We have said we can create a better world for everyone - a world of justice, equality, fairness, balance and sustenance. A world of warm homes, amazing public transport, healthy streets, clean air, affordable food and nature in abundance.”

It comes after over 130 countries, covering 90 per cent of the world’s forests, committed to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.

“To have any chance of keeping below 1.5C of global warming, we must halt deforestation,” Sir David Attenborough.

Downing Street said the pledge was backed by $12bn (£8.75bn) of public funding from governments aimed at restoring ripped-up land, with a further $7.2bn (£5.3bn) coming from private investment.

It includes $2bn (£1.47bn) from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for land restoration in Africa, double what he previously committed just a day earlier at an event with the Prince of Wales.

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