Tens of thousands of protesters worldwide maintain pressure on leaders at COP26

ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith reports on the largest protest to take place since COP26 began


Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Glasgow, London and other locations worldwide to demand action on climate change.

In Glasgow, where the crucial UN summit is taking place, scores of people marched through the city centre, despite the pouring rain and wind, as part of the COP26 Coalition’s global day of action for climate justice.

A wide range of demonstrators joined the march in Glasgow, including environmental groups, charities, climate activists, trade unionists and indigenous people.

At around 3pm, the march was halted by police on St Vincent Street. Around hundred protesters were kettled in what Philip Sime, an ITV News producer on the ground, described as "tense scenes".

Police confirmed they arrested 21 people at the climate rally in Glasgow and officers removed activists from the Scientist Rebellion movement who had chained themselves to the King George V Bridge.

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie claimed the day had “passed largely without incident”, and said the "size and scale" of the protest was "beyond anything many of us – both within and outwith policing – can ever remember."

Earlier, a fire engine, women covered in moss and Poseidon on stilts turned out for the protest in the Scottish city, while a group of children guided a display featuring what appeared to be a large snake wearing glasses through Kelvingrove Park.

Jason Cook, 54, from Wootton Bassett has said he and two friends were marching through Glasgow because they were tired of hearing “blah, blah, blah” from leaders on climate action.

The three men had come to the march wearing helmets, each adorned with a sign which said “blah”, echoing the description of the Cop26 summit by 18-year-old activist Greta Thunberg.

Mr Cook and his friends don masks of world leaders to complement their Greta Thunberg-inspired headwear.

Dave Knight, 51, from Wiltshire, added there had been “lots of words, but we really need action – the end of fossil fuels as soon as possible”.

Extinction Rebellion activists dressed as the Ghostbusters, along with a man wearing a sign that said “the end is nigh” were among the marchers making their way to Glasgow Green.

The group of demonstrators in Glasgow included indigenous people. Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA

Hundreds of people lined the streets in support, some holding home-made signs.

Police refused to estimate how many people were marching, but organisers, the COP26 Coalition, claimed more than 100,000 people had turned out despite the weather, as an estimated 300 events were taking place worldwide.

Protesters wore costumes to march through Glasgow Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the Bank of England in central London for the start of a march through the city.

Banging steel drums, chanting “one solution” and waving Extinction Rebellion banners reading “tell the truth”, the crowd said they were planning to march two miles to Trafalgar Square.

Sophie Blake, 33, from Kentish Town, north London, who joined the protest with her two-month-old son Kit in a baby harness, said she wanted to show him that they tried to do something, adding: “I feel compelled as a human being and I feel a bit ashamed of the world that he’s going to inherit.

“The time for action has long passed, we need to make real efforts to cut global emissions right now.”

Protesters take part in a rally organised by the COP26 Coalition in London. Credit: PA

Climate protests have also taken place across the island of Ireland, with hundreds of people gathered at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin for one of the main demonstrations.

In Northern Ireland, protesters congregated in Belfast ahead of a noisy and colourful march through the city centre before a rally at City Hall.

Activists also gathered in France, Belgium, Greece and Turkey all raising their collective voice to heed action, not just words from world leaders at COP26.

Protesters march in Turkey with strong messages. Credit: AP
Trade unionists in Poland demand climate action.

Meanwhile, in more favourable weather conditions, protesters campaigned on the South African coast.

Extinction Rebellion activists gathered on Muizenberg Beach in Cape Town on Saturday.

Protesters tell world leaders in Glasgow they're "watching" them all the way from South Africa.

The marches come after thousands of youth activists, including Greta Thunberg and Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate, marched through Glasgow on Friday protesting against investment in fossil fuels and failure to tackle the climate crisis.

Ms Thunberg had been expected to address the rally in Glasgow, but did not appear as it was understand she wanted to give space to other speakers as she had spoken at Friday’s event.

Ugandan climate justice activist Vanessa Nakate addresses a rally in Glasgow. Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

Ms Nakate did address protesters in Glasgow on Saturday, telling marchers that communities such as hers were already being hit by temperature rises.

“It’s already destruction. It’s already suffering. It’s already disaster. Any rise will only make things worse,” she said.

And she added: “Leaders rarely have the courage to lead. It takes citizens, people like you and me, to rise up and demand action. And when we do that in great enough numbers, our leaders will move.

“Until then, we must demand that our leaders treat the climate crisis like our crisis, we must demand that our leaders stop holding meaningless summits and start taking meaningful action.”

People take part in a climate change protest in Belfast Credit: David Young/PA

The latest demonstrations come midway through the Cop26 summit, which has seen about 120 leaders gather in Glasgow to set out the action they are taking and commit to curb deforestation, phase out coal, end funding for fossil fuels abroad and cut methane emissions.

But there is still a significant gap between the measures countries have committed to and what is needed to avoid more than 1.5°C of warming, beyond which the worst floods, droughts, storms and rising seas of climate change will be felt.

So countries are under pressure to agree a process to increase ambition in the next decade, as well as deliver finance for developing countries to cope with the crisis and finalise the last parts of how the global Paris Agreement on climate change will work.

As the protests take place, negotiations continue at Cop26, while the conference is also focusing on the role of nature, land use and agriculture in tackling climate change on Saturday.