Pilgrimage groups arrive in Glasgow as protests kick off ahead of Cop26

·3-min read

Pilgrimage groups have marched through Glasgow as protests ramp up ahead of Cop26.

Thousands of activists have gathered in Scotland’s largest city this weekend to make their climate change concerns known to the world leaders who will be around the negotiating table.

Some protesters started making their voices heard around noon on Saturday, including members of Ocean Rebellion who led a “dead merpeoples” demonstration, with activists lying still entangled in netting and litter near the Clyde in Glasgow to raise awareness of marine life loss.

Members of Extinction Rebellion (XR) Faith, artists and other pilgrimage groups who have walked thousands of miles to Glasgow joined each other in a procession through the city centre on Saturday.

Activists from Ocean Rebellion covered in fishing nets demonstrate on the banks of the River Clyde as they ask Cop26 delegates to make bottom trawling/dredging a thing of the past
Activists from Ocean Rebellion (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The event was said to be an “opening ceremony” to a series of non-violent direct actions being planned in Glasgow, around the UK and the world during the United Nations climate change convention.

The procession started at 2pm at the McLennan Arch on Glasgow Green, where XR Scotland’s “Blue Rebels” formed a guard of honour for the pilgrims.

Those arriving in the city included Marcha Glasgow, a group of Spanish activists who took a ferry from Bilbao to Portsmouth to embark on a 30-day hike to Glasgow.

Camino to Cop26 members have walked from London and Bristol to Glasgow in just under two months.

Young Christian Climate Network activists arrived in the city on Saturday after walking 1,200 miles from Cornwall.

Ecumenical Pilgrimage for Climate Justice arrived in Glasgow from Poland, Sweden and Germany – and Pilgrimage for Cop26 has walked from Dunbar to Glasgow.

Glasgow-based artists Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich paraded with the Serpent of Capitalism, a 30-metre sculptural artwork alongside the pilgrimage groups.

Cop26 – Glasgow
The climate summit begins on Sunday (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Alex Cochrane, of XR Glasgow, said: “Cop26 must end a growing crime against humanity by wealthy governments where the global south are sacrificed to bear the brunt of the global north’s affluent, carbon-intensive lifestyles.

“We welcome the pilgrims of faith – and no faith – who are walking to Cop26 to demand governments also walk the walk for the global south.”

Yaz Ashmawi, of XR Pilgrim, said: “Countries around the world are already suffering the consequences of our historic emissions in the west, and small island states like the Maldives will be submerged by rising seas if no immediate action is taken on the climate.

“As people of faith we have a spiritual duty of care to those who are less fortunate than us, so we have been using this walk to raise money for activists in financially disadvantaged countries that are already impacted, to empower them to join this conversation themselves.”

The marches come the day before world leaders are to meet in Glasgow for the crucial climate conference where countries are under pressure to discuss and increase their ambition to tackle the climate crisis.

Up to 30,000 people will descend on Scotland’s largest city over a two-week period.

On Friday, Ocean Rebellion activists poured “oil” in front of Glasgow’s Cop26 venue in protest ahead of the event.

Police officers walk along the banks of the River Clyde by the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow where Cop26 is being held
Police officers walk along the banks of the River Clyde (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Another four XR protesters locked themselves to the Memorial Gates at the University of Glasgow using bike locks to demand that the establishment adopt the Green New Deal – a climate strategy developed by students and staff at the university.

Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, Scotland’s most senior police officer, said his force will respond “swiftly and robustly” to protesters who try to disrupt the summit.

He said the force – together with 7,000 officers from other parts of the UK who have been deployed to Scotland to help police Cop26 – was “ready for the challenges that lie ahead”.

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