By Manuel Moncada
Glasgow, United Kingdom, Nov 5 (EFE).- Tens of thousands of young people took to the streets Friday to repudiate what Swedish activist Greta Thunberg described as the “blah, blah, blah” of the heads of state and government at the United Nations COP26 climate summit in this Scottish city.
The crowd of 30,000 – according to Fridays for Future – marched across Glasgow chanting slogans such as “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!”
The event, which came on the COP26’s designated Youth and Public Empowerment Day, culminated in George Square with a rally that included speeches by climate activists from around the world.
Thunberg said that the lack of progress on climate change was the result not of inaction, but of “an active choice by the leaders to continue to let the exploitation of people and nature and the destruction of present and future living conditions take place.”
“It is not a secret that COP26 is a failure,” said the 18-year-old whose weekly school strikes to demand climate action inspired the global Fridays for Future movement.
“The COP has turned into a PR event, where leaders are giving beautiful speeches and announcing fancy commitments and targets while behind the curtains the governments of the global north countries are still refusing to take any drastic climate action,” Thunberg said.
“They have had 26 COPs, they have had decades of blah, blah, blah, and where has that led us?,” she said.
Vanessa Nakate, founder of a climate movement called Rise Up, said that people in her native Uganda were “being erased” by climate change.
“People are dying, children are dropping out of school, farms are being destroyed,” she said.
“Historically, Africa is responsible for only 3 percent of global emissions, but Africans are suffering some of the most brutal impacts fueled by the climate crisis,” Nakate, 24, told her fellow activists.
Sounding a hopeful note, she said that with the right policies, “farms can blossom again. The animals can rejoice, because there is water to drink.”
“We won’t have to fight for limited resources, because there will be enough for everyone,” Nakate said.
Despite the protesters’ open disdain for the summit proceedings, the COP26 president, former UK Cabinet minister Alok Sharma, praised “the passion and the commitment of young people to climate action.”
“The voices of young people must be heard and reflected in these negotiations here at COP,” he said. EFE mml/jt-dr