Over 22 people faced arrests at the Glasgow COP26 Climate Summit over the past few days. Though hundreds were marching in the city, those who were arrested were detained for allegedly possessing spray-paint cans and assaulting police officers. The COP26 Summit, hosted by the United Nations, takes place on an annual basis and consists of 120 world leaders as well as hundreds of thousands of people. However, this summit, in particular, was greeted with the utmost urgency due to the jarring rise in global temperature since the last meeting. Leaders invited to the summit are asked to do their part in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the BBC, Glasgow’s Assistant Chief Constable, Gary Ritchie, implied that there was no need to raise alarms over the arrests: “for such a highly significant event, to reach the end of the first week with fewer than 50 arrests being made is testament to the fact the relationship between protesters and the police has been largely non-contentious.” He also stated that a small group of socialist activists was detained last Saturday because they were failing to meet police instructions and slowing down the march. A spokesman for the march, Asad Rehmen, defended the protesters: “many thousands of people took to the streets today on every continent demanding that governments move from climate inaction to climate justice,” according to Reuters. He stated that protesters won’t be satisfied with words; action is the only proper response to their pleas.
The summit is held to bring people together to fight climate change. Yet, as the conference enters its second week, many are witnessing a large division amongst those in attendance. Greta Thunberg also commented on the summit, saying that a lot of it is “blah, blah, blah” and merely words instead of action. According to the NY Times, however, 105 countries agreed to cut emissions of methane by 30% by 2030. India has also joined in on the effort, promising a 2070 deadline of reaching “net zero” emissions. The difficulty lies in holding countries accountable for their goals.
The protesters organized demonstrations to show their dissatisfaction with empty promises. Many signs from the protest read, “pledges are not action.” They have every right to protest for better climate justice; many of the protesters consisted of indigenous communities which are most affected by climate change. These protests are not without cause. World leaders must do a better job at combating climate change instead of giving empty speeches.
The protesters were symbolizing their anger at the inaction against climate change. The global temperature is still increasing at an alarming rate, yet many countries have not lived up to the promises they gave years ago. To make more effective progress before the next meeting, the global community needs to implement effective accountability measures to hold nations to their promises. It’s time for world leaders to listen to their constituents and address the real problem before it’s too late.
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