Climate Activist, Greta Thunberg, Attends Protests In London Ahead Of COP26

COP26, the 2021 United Nations climate change conference, begins on Sunday 31 October in Glasgow. Ahead of this, climate activist, Greta Thunberg, is in London attending protests calling on the financial system to stop funding fossil fuel projects. The protests in London are part of a more global effort, with protests planned at financial centres across the world, for example, in New York, San Francisco and Nairobi. Activists are demanding that banks stop approving financial loans to projects and companies that use fossil fuels, for example, oil, coal and natural gas.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Thunberg stated that “change is possible” at COP26 as long as pressure on politicians continues. Thunberg is travelling to Glasgow to participate in a “climate strike,” however, she has not “officially” been invited to speak at the conference. This comes after the UK stated, in its official summit programme, that they wanted to use COP26 to “elevate youth voices.”

The summit will involve a discussion on the outcome of the Youth4Climate summit in Milan in September, at which Thunberg mocked the use of climate slogans by politicians. At the COP26 conference, over 200 countries will be required to present their plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The protest in London on Friday 29 October enabled climate groups and activists from all around the world to meet face-to-face for the first time. Matt Graveling, a BBC News reporter, spoke to some of the protesters who stated that they feel confident that their voices combined will be heard.

Thunberg has also stated that it is important that the poorer countries who experience the most negative impact by climate change must have a greater presence at COP26. She also spoke out about the US effort to tackle climate change. Joe Biden has described his $7.5 trillion (£1.2tn) Build Back Better social welfare package as historic. This package will spend over $500bn on green policies. However, Thunberg stated that, “When the US is in fact expanding fossil fuel infrastructure, that is a clear sign that they are not really treating the climate crisis as an emergency.” Thunberg agreed that the US could become a world leader on climate change, however, she added that, “Of course, everyone has the possibility, but if they continue like now, no.”

The COP26 summit will take place in Glasgow from Sunday 31 October and the pressure falls to the host country, the UK, to ensure that the countries in attendance commit to concrete and meaningful changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.