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Greta Thunberg brands COP26 'a failure' as thousands of young people protest in Glasgow

At least 8,000 people, including Irish activists, took part in the march.

Updated Nov 5th 2021, 4:30 PM

SWEDISH CAMPAIGNER GRETA Thunberg has branded the UN climate summit in Glasgow a “failure” after a week of negotiations produced what some experts have called vague promises to cut emissions.

“It is not a secret that COP26 is a failure,” Thunberg told thousands of youth protesters at a march in the Scottish city today.

She called the COP26 talks “a two-week long celebration of business as usual and ‘blah, blah, blah’.”

Thunberg, fellow activist Vanessa Nakate and other young campaigners, as well as local trade unionists, are speaking to crowds at the end of the march this afternoon.

The climate strike, organised by Fridays for Future Scotland, started at 11am with participants marching from Kelvingrove Park to George Square.

It came as the COP26 talks feature events highlighting the voice of young people and education in climate action.

At least 8,000 people took part in the march. A number of Irish people made the trip over to Scotland for the event.

Speaking to The Journal at the march earlier, Irish teenager Flossie Donnelly said she’s in Glasgow as she believes this COP is the “last chance to turn this around so future generations don’t look back on us as villains”.

She added: “It feels really empowering to be here, knowing that so many people are here for the same cause – to stop climate change and to have a better future.”

Ciara Cullen, from Clare Island in Co Mayo, is at the march with her partner and children. They travelled to Glasgow via public transport and ferry.

She told The Journal she has been taking part in climate protests and activism for “as long as I can remember”.

Cullen said the “greenwashing” at COP26 so far has been “really intense and I think it’s getting worse in a certain way”.

“Because when you hear the speeches that politicians are giving, it sounds like ‘yeah, this is gonna be solved’ … but in fact, the sort of deals that are being made in terms of geoengineering, these technological fixes are going to work.

“They’re not going to work. They haven’t been invented yet, but it’s the same thinking that has caused the problem that’s being used. So I think the people in the streets is the only thing that we have left. So I’m not necessarily hopeful, but it’s what you have to do.”

A number of Irish doctors and consultants are also present at the march, travelling via ferry to Glasgow, to highlight the interconnectedness of health and climate change.

Dr Ana Rakovac, Consultant Chemical Pathologist at Tallaght University Hospital, told The Journal: “The reason we’re here today is because the climate crisis is a health crisis and it’s happening already.

“We want to bring attention to the fact that without a healthy planet there is no healthy population. That is our message, we want this to resonate with our government.”

She added that the decarbonisation of healthcare needs to happen immediately, not in the future.

More protests tomorrow

Today’s protest came ahead of marches on Saturday where tens of thousands of people are expected in Glasgow, with other marches in London and cities around the UK, as well as across the world.

The protests come at the end of the first week of the conference, where countries are under pressure to increase ambition on cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change, to avoid the worst impacts of warming, and to ensure finance for poor countries to tackle the crisis.

Earlier in the week around 120 world leaders gathered at the Cop26 summit to set out the action they were taking to tackle the climate crisis.

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There have also been announcements on curbing deforestation, phasing out coal and boosting finance flows towards transforming economies to be green.

But shadow business secretary Ed Miliband warned against “shifting the goalposts” to focus on long-term targets and vague announcements in various sectors instead of on urgent action by countries to cut emissions to get the world on track to limit temperature rises to 1.5C.

In an event last night, US special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry said the COP26 summit is a “critical” event which he described as the world’s “last best hope to get us on course”.

Speaking at the CBI dinner, he called on developed countries to help less-developed countries in the fight against climate change and warned trillions were needed from private finance “because no government in the world has enough money” to cope with climate change.

With reporting by Orla Dwyer in Glasgow, Press Association and © AFP 2021 

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Órla Ryan

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