activism Climate Change Kenny Stancil

More Than 100,000 Take to Streets on Global Day of Action for Climate Justice

On Global Day of Action for Climate Justice, over 100,000 people marched through Glasglow while 300 other demonstrations around the world took place simultaneously, all calling for climate justice.
More than 100,000 people marched through Glasgow, Scotland on Saturday, November 6, 2021 to demand that governments move from climate inaction to climate justice (Photo: COP26 Coalition)

By Kenny Stancil / Common Dreams

As diplomats from wealthy countries continue to say “blah, blah, blah” at COP26, over 100,000 people growing increasingly impatient with empty promises and inaction marched through Glasgow on Saturday, with thousands more hitting the streets in cities around the world during roughly 300 simultaneous demonstrations on a Global Day of Action for Climate Justice.

“Many thousands of people took to the streets today on every continent demanding that governments move from climate inaction to climate justice,” Asad Rehman, a spokesperson for the COP26 Coalition, said in a statement. “We won’t tolerate warm words and long-term targets anymore, we want action now.”

“Today, the people who have been locked out of this climate summit had their voices heard,” Rehman continued, “and those voices will be ringing in the ears of world leaders as we enter the second week of negotiations.”

Rehman added that “the climate crisis has resulted from our broken, unequal societies and economies. We must transform our global economies into ones that protect both people and our planet instead of profit for a few.”

The COP26 Coalition is a United Kingdom-based alliance of civil society groups and trade unions mobilizing around climate justice during the ongoing United Nations climate summit in Scotland. That’s where governments “will decide who is to be sacrificed, who will escape, and who will make a profit,” the coalition said. “We can either intensify the crisis to the point of no return, or lay the foundations for a just world where everyone’s needs are met.”

Saturday’s actions in every corner of the globe came one day before the start of the People’s Summit for Climate Justice, where ordinary individuals can “discuss, learn, and strategize for system change.” From Sunday through Wednesday, participants can attend workshops in Glasgow or join online events.

The coalition’s call to action emphasizes that those who have done the least to cause public health crises, including the fossil fuel-driven climate emergency and the deforestation-linked Covid-19 pandemic, “suffer the most.”

“Across the world, the poorest people and communities of color are too often those bearing the brunt of the climate crisis,” the coalition continued. “From coastal villages in Norfolk whose sea-defenses are eroding faster than ever, to people living by the Niger Delta rivers blackened by oil spillage.”

Global crises of economic exploitation, racial oppression, and environmental degradation “not only overlap,” the coalition added, “but share the same cause.”

“We got to this crisis point,” the coalition said, “because our political and economic system is built on inequality and injustice. For centuries, rich governments and corporations have been exploiting people and the planet for profit, no matter how much it harms the rest of us.”

The solution, said the coalition, is “system change that comes from the ground up.” Remedies that “not only reduce carbon emissions but create a fairer and more just world in the process… already exist and are being practiced, but our leaders lack the political will” to pursue “climate action based on justice, redistribution of resources, and decentralization of power.”

“Justice won’t be handed to us by world leaders or delivered by corporations,” the coalition added. “Only we can imagine and build the future that works for all of us… through collective action, solidarity, and coordination” in local communities and at the international level.

That message was echoed by COP26 Coalition member War on Want, a U.K.-based organization that fights the causes of poverty and defends human rights.

In a video arguing that the dominant political-economic order is not broken, but rather “rigged,” War on Want explains how the capitalist system “generates increasing wealth for the already rich and powerful at the expense of the majority of people on this Earth” and advocates for a Global Green New Deal to achieve climate justice.

“Billionaires, corporations, and oligarchs don’t measure failure in lives lost, houses flooded, communities destroyed, forests burned, or people locked into poverty,” the video continues. “They measure success by their bank balance, by share prices, and by holidays in space.”

“Where we see climate breakdown, poverty, and injustice, they see nothing but profit,” states the video. “The climate crisis is a crisis of justice.”

Echoing recent research highlighting the extent to which the Global North extracts resources from the Global South, War on Want notes that “from the shackles of slavery to the gunboats of colonialism, from imperialist interventions to the neoliberal rigging of the global economy,” wealthy countries, and especially the elites within them, have drained trillions of dollars from impoverished nations, and that is reflected in their disproportionate share of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.K., the United States, and the European Union, for instance, have been responsible for nearly half of the world’s carbon pollution, despite making up just 10% of its population.

Meanwhile, a new study shows that the world’s wealthiest countries and worst polluters are spending over twice as much on border militarization to exclude growing numbers of refugees as they are on decarbonization.

Despite repeated warnings that limiting global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels by the end of the century requires keeping fossil fuels in the ground and ramping up the worldwide production of clean energy, U.S. President Joe Biden has been approving extraction on public lands and waters at a dangerous clip, and he and the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell have both pushed for boosting the supply of oil.

Globally, fossil fuel use is projected to increase this decade even as annual reductions in coal, oil, and gas production are necessary to avert the worst consequences of the climate crisis.

The planet is currently on pace for a “catastrophic” 2.7°C of heating this century if countries—starting with the rich polluters most responsible for exacerbating extreme weather—fail to rapidly and drastically slash greenhouse gas emissions, accelerate the transition to renewable energy, and enact transformative changes.

Like Bolivian President Luis Arce, the COP26 Coalition stressed that “the multiple crises we face are not going to be solved with more exploitation of people and the planet, and cooking the books.”

“Current government and corporation targets of ‘Net Zero’ do not mean zero emissions,” the coalition explained. “Instead, they want to continue polluting while covering it up with crafty ‘carbon offsets.’ We need commitments and action to achieve Real Zero. That also means no new fossil fuel investments and infrastructure at home or abroad, and saying no to carbon markets, and banking on risky unproven technologies that allow countries and corporations to continue polluting.”

In addition, the coalition said, “climate action must be based on who has historically profited and those who have suffered.”

The alliance continued:

Indigenous peoples have been at the frontline of the root causes of climate change for centuries. Indigenous peoples, frontline communities, and the Global South cannot continue to pay the price for the climate crisis while the Global North profits.

Each country’s carbon emission reduction must be proportional to their fair share: how much they have contributed to the climate crisis through past emissions. We must cancel debts of Global South by all creditors and the rich countries must provide adequate grant-based climate finance for those on the frontline of the climate crisis to survive. We must address the loss of lives, livelihoods, and ecosystems already occurring across the world, through a collective commitment to providing reparations for the loss and damage in the Global South.

In its video, War on Want stresses that “poverty, the climate crisis, inequality, and racism aren’t accidental. They’re political.”

“The answer is people power,” the group adds. “All across the world—from peasants sowing solidarity, workers fighting for a living wage, people resisting occupation, Indigenous communities defending communal lands, to climate activists taking to the streets—we are all coming together to challenge the system, uproot injustice, and fight for people and our planet.”

Speaking at Saturday’s rally in Glasgow, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Marshall Islands Climate Envoy to the United Nations, said that “we need the biggest emitters to be held responsible. We need financing to implement the solutions we are currently developing ourselves through our national adaptation plan.”

“We contribute 0.00005% of the world’s global emissions,” Jetnil-Kijiner added. “We did nothing to contribute to this crisis, and we should not have to pay the consequences. We need to keep up the pressure [so] that COP26 doesn’t allow offsets or endanger human rights and the rights of Indigenous people.”

Kenny Stancil
Kenny Stancil

Kenny Stancil is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

11 comments

  1. Yikes. More choreographed theater. These are killers — the capitalists, the point zero-zero-one Percent, and their dream hoarders in the 19 Percent. USA/EU/AU/NZ/Korea/Japan/Canada. The entire media coverage of this absurdity is clownish, and alas, all that money, CO2, energy, and wrongly directed anger dumped into money gouging Glasgow, all an embarrassment.

    The Scheer Report just keeps republishing more of the middle of the road liberal line. Reporting on this travesty is also kabuki theater. A call to action by Black Leaders and Indigenous Leaders and real revolutionaries is what we need, not more of the Making of Greta and their Stooges.

    Stephen Corry of Survival International contended:

    The call to make 30% of the globe into “Protected Areas” is really a colossal land grab as big as Europe’s colonial era, and it’ll bring as much suffering and death. Let’s not be fooled by the hype from the conservation NGOs and their UN and government funders. This has nothing to do with climate change, protecting biodiversity or avoiding pandemics – in fact it’s more likely to make all of them worse. It’s really all about money, land and resource control, and an all out assault on human diversity. This planned dispossession of hundreds of millions of people risks eradicating human diversity and self-sufficiency – the real keys to our being able to slow climate change and protect biodiversity.

  2. On one hand we have the ruling class, a bunch of unevolved psychopaths & sociopaths that run everything and are driven by insane greed & selfishness. Their minions are the ones who run the COP conferences. On the other hand, we have well-meaning protesters, clearly more evolved humans than those against whom they’re protesting. However, even the well-meaning people are way off base here. For example, the protesters used industrial means of transportation to get to the conference to demonstrate, they all have cell phones, etc., all of which contribute to and are part of the problem being protested against.

    There is no permanent and substantial solution to global warming/climate change, or to any other environmental or ecological problem, other than greatly reducing both human population and human consumption (i.e., we need to live A LOT more simply & naturally). These problems have been festering for thousands of years, so the solutions are going to take a long time too. It would take 150-200 years to get rid of industrial society, and that’s if we can reduce human population to no more than one billion by then (industrial society is needed in order to feed any more than one billion people). It would take thousands of years to get back to living as hunter-gatherers, the only proper way to live on this planet (humans have been using agriculture for so long that the vast majority of them are now totally blind to how ecologically and environmentally destructive it is, with animal agriculture being the worst of it). Etc. While these solutions will take long periods of time in human terms, they will never happen if we don’t start advocating for them and moving in that direction. Instead of doing that, people complaining about climate change — almost always to the exclusion of all the other great human-caused environmental and ecological harms, BTW — advocate for the totally phony solution of changing sources of energy so that our lifestyles can all be maintained. Hate to break it to you, but changing sources of energy won’t fix anything and might even make things worse (see all the ecological and environmental destruction needed in order to create solar panels and wind generators, for example).

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too, and it’s way past time that humans as a whole grow up and acknowledged that fact. You can choose LIFE, meaning that you live naturally and in small numbers, or you can choose lifeSTYLE, meaning that you continue to live unnaturally in grossly overpopulated hordes and continue to destroy the Earth and all life on it. But you can’t have this lifestyle without destroying life, as nice and convenient as having it without destroying life would be.

    1. You are definitely on the right track. Most modern societys depend on the buying and selling of stuff we dont need .This consumerism must stop. I personally feel that a massive national strike in the US eliminating anything but food,water and shelter plus any other necessities would be a good start. Once we begin to cut their profits on cars,clothing,and electronics guns gambling and pornography we would see the benefits quickly.The Masters of Mankind will respond with repressive measures including violence.

      1. Yes, stopping the insane consumerism needs to happen. But that’s just a start, and we also need to greatly lower human population, which is an even more fundamental problem (though they’re both fundamental and there’s no point in arguing which is worse). Additionally, we need to eliminate industrial society and eventually agriculture, though as I said eliminating industrial society is 150-200 years away, and getting back to living as hunter-gatherers is thousands of years away. What humans should be doing is focusing on expanding our consciousness, not continuing to harmfully and unnaturally manipulate the natural/physical world to their own (temporary) advantage but to the detriment to the Earth and everyone else living here.

  3. Come on. Retrenchment. Ecosocialism. Don’t blame billions for 37,000,000 millionaires and their brood, and the 2,800 billionaires and their brood.

    So, the planned pandemic, I know it took years to get to that gain of function DARPA-UNC fun, but think how quickly the world shook when the lock-downs and lock-ups happened. A trillion for USA offence, and hundreds of billions for the USA and Global Pharma.

    Yeah, it looks bleak when you put it this way — overpopulation, greed, and dirty humans. Again, I do not blame old folks getting their insulin delivered via Amazon or Fed-Ex. This system is a system set up by perverted, murderous and just plain misanthropic humans in control and their Eichmann’s.

    I’ve been with some of them, as an educator, and a journalist. REALLY. They are subhuman, and when a world is in lock-up, fear fear fear is the collective Stockholm Syndrome, the GAD of our times — generalized anxiety disorder. Do not blame the people who are the victims, and do not shadow your words with — it will take 140 years to dismantle industrial society.

    RETRENCHMENT, downsizing, and moving people away from climate hell. Yep, we are not in an ecosocial moment, and we could have been Ishmael, mother culture beings, but we are people who have been controlled for thousands of years. But, do not blame the people for the cancers and viruses of capitalism.

    It’s complicated, but so is putting a retrograde electric TESLA shit car into orbit with a manikin.

    “If ecosocialists support wilderness clearances and population reduction they will be on the wrong side of some of the most important struggles in the world today.” — Ian Angus

    Here, Angus’ words, again, a letter in retort:

    http://links.org.au/node/2393

    When an eco-socialist government (and perhaps also such a society) is in place, the citizens who have elected such a government will know what to do and they will do it. In the time before that, i.e. in the transition period, a policy of strong material incentives and disincentives would be necessary (see my book).

    If this were an abstract question that could wait until the worldwide victory of ecosocialism, or at least until the “transition period”, we could debate it at leisure. But proposals to drive Indigenous and other people out of their homelands on environmental grounds are not intellectual games – they are really being implemented today. Most notably, the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) program, led by the World Bank and supported by various UN agencies, encourages governments to generate carbon credits by preserving supposedly pristine forests.

    As justice activists point out, the losers in this are Indigenous and other forest peoples. Their lands are being seized, their access to traditional food and shelter denied, their spiritual and cultural practices destroyed. From Kenya to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Papua New Guinea, Mexico and Indonesia, to name only a few, people have been expelled and arrested for using resources on their lands, in the name of slowing greenhouse gas emissions thousands of miles away. (See Carbon Trade Watch, Key Arguments Against REDD.)

    I’m sure you’ll reply that this isn’t what you intended. Unfortunately, as the proverb says, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Proposals such as yours can easily give credence to imperialist schemes such as REDD.

    US ecologist William Cronon writes,

    protecting the rain forest in the eyes of First World environmentalists all too often means protecting it from the people who live there. Those who seek to preserve such “wilderness” from the activities of native peoples run the risk of reproducing the same tragedy—being forcibly removed from an ancient home—that befell American Indians. Third World countries face massive environmental problems and deep social conflicts, but these are not likely to be solved by a cultural myth that encourages us to “preserve” people-less landscapes that have not existed in such places for millennia. At its worst, as environmentalists are beginning to realize, exporting American notions of wilderness in this way can become an unthinking and self-defeating form of cultural imperialism. (The Trouble with Wilderness)

    Similarly, proposals to reduce population have concrete, often horrifying, consequences. As Marxist geographer David Harvey warns:

    Whenever a theory of overpopulation seizes hold in a society dominated by an elite, then the non-elite invariably experience some form of political, economic, and social repression. (The Political Implications of Population-Resources Theory)

    The lives of hundreds of thousands of real people have been destroyed by well-meaning Western programs meant to save them from overpopulation. In case after case, supposedly humanitarian campaigns to reduce birth rates have led to mass coerced sterilisation and other human rights violations. Once again, good intentions aren’t just insufficient, they can be deadly.

    In short, for ecosocialists to support wilderness clearances and population reduction would place us on the wrong side of some of the most important environmental and social justice struggles taking place in the world today.

    If ecosocialists truly want to build a movement than can build a better world, we must be absolutely clear: people are not the problem, and reducing the number of people is not a solution.

    1. “Ecosocialism”? Idiotic tripe. Either you prioritize the environment or you prioritize economic issues, you can’t do both because they conflict with one another. Humans started destroying the natural world when they started using agriculture 10-12,000 years ago. Agriculture is the physical root of the problem This has nothing to do with capitalism, it occurred thousands of years later.

      Anyone who denies human overpopulation or is opposed to lowering human population is anti-environment, simple as that. There are so many peopleon the planet , including their agriculture and infrastructure, that the plants and other animals have nowhere to live. Human overpopulation is one of the main causes of the current extinction crisis, and lowering human population is the No. 1 thing that scientists say to do in order to combat global warming/climate change. Likewise if you don’t support giving large portions of the Earth back to nature by removing humans.

    2. “The lives of hundreds of thousands of real people have been destroyed by well-meaning Western programs meant to save them from overpopulation. In case after case, supposedly humanitarian campaigns to reduce birth rates have led to mass coerced sterilisation and other human rights violations.”

      Researcher Jane O’Sullivan begs to differ with you. You can find her presentations on YouTube.

      I dare to say that the majority of people have absolutely no business having children. Most, including myself, are born for the wrong reasons: an accident, a rape, another welfare check, to fix a marriage, to keep a man, to have an excuse to stay at home, to take care of parents when they age, to care for a disabled sibling, because it is what is expected and everyone does it, to ease loneliness, to satisfy a narcissistic need to create a mini version of oneself, because a family looks good to the company when a man is climbing the corporate ladder, to work to help support poor parents. Too many children are born with a job to do. So they/we grow up with poverty, addictions, abuse, immature and emotionally unavailable parents, and other issues. A sick system and a sick society produce sick people. Healing from this is difficult.

      I am 54 and childless by choice. I have a clear understanding of the awesome responsibility it is to bring a human being into this troubled world at this troubled time. It took maturity and selflessness to decide this.

      My life hasn’t been “destroyed” because I didn’t reproduce. But the planet IS being destroyed because you cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet. How many more billion consumers do you think the planet can sustain? The oceans are crashing now. What will happen to all those babies when we have massive crop failures? They will suffer and die.

      Your rant sounds like overdramatized fear mongering to me.

      1. Totally agree with you that there is no good reason to have kids on a grossly overpopulated planet. Like you, I’ve never heard a good reason for having kids.

        Denying human overpopulation is as stupid and/or ignorant and/or immoral as denying anthropogenic global warming/climate change. It’s a clear and obvious fact, but anthropocentric humans don’t want to acknowledge the reality of it because they basically worship themselves. If you think that you and your own species are the center of the universe, I guess there can’t be too many of you, regardless of all the destruction that your overpopulation causes.

  4. Oh, the white privileged eugenicists are marching now at Scheer Post. All people questioning their New Brown Shirt /Green Shirt racism, darn, we’re idiots.

    Ian Angus, the sanest voice on this topic I think….wrote several years back (Return of the Population Bombers, Climate & Capitalism, July 2012)…

    “Populationist ideas are gaining traction in the environmental movement. A growing number of sincere activists are once again buying into the idea that overpopulation is destroying the earth, and that what’s needed is a radical reduction in birth rates.

    Most populationists say they want voluntary birth control programs, but a growing number are calling for compulsory measures. In his best-selling book The World Without Us, liberal journalist Alan Weisman says the only way to save the Earth is to “Limit every human female on Earth capable of bearing children to one.”

    Another prominent liberal writer, Chris Hedges, writes, “All efforts to staunch the effects of climate change are not going to work if we do not practice vigorous population control.”

    In the recent book Deep Green Resistance, Derrick Jensen and his co-writers argue for direct action by small groups, aimed at destroying industry and agriculture and reducing the world’s human population by 90% or more.

    And the famous British naturalist Sir David Attenborough’s tells us that “All environmental problems become harder, and ultimately impossible, to solve with ever more people.”

    Attenborough is a patron of Optimum Population Trust, also known as Population Matters, an influential British group that uses environmental arguments to lobby for stopping immigration.”

    1. Paul Haeder and the authors he recommends are perfect examples of being so blinded by your ideology that you can’t see reality. Notice that neither Haeder nor his recommended authors have even one argument to support their position that humans are not overpopulated from an ecological point of view. Of course there is no argument for that. Instead, all they do is call those of us, who are trying to wake humans up to this most serious problem, names and link us to eugenicists.

      Humans, their agriculture, and their infrastructure now occupy more than half of the terrestrial land on Earth, and most of the remainder is uninhabitable by all but the most primordial forms of life. Human overpopulation and overconsumption are the physical root causes of ALL environmental and ecological problems. This has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with race or eugenics. It has to do with humans finally taking responsibility for their actions and leaving some space for the other species on this planet. But these people take the position that that overpopulation isn’t a problem without having any evidence or even relevant argument to back up their position. Totally ridiculous!!!

  5. Another good start here to stem the racism and misogyny of these eco-theists,

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/04/03/population-bomb-or-bomb-the-population/4

    Link to an article by John Steppling:

    “Population Bomb or Bomb the Population?

    http://rocksalted.com/2019/04/john-steppling-population-bomb-or-bomb-the-population/

    Bonus links: “Ashley Dawson: Extreme Cities” (Steppling’s article essentially provides the answer to an audience question that Ashley Dawson stumbled with in this video of an otherwise excellent talk)

    and “Malthus’ Essay on Population at Age 200”

    and “Population Explosion”

    and “Will Limiting Population Growth Solve the Climate Crisis?”

    and “Ten Reasons Why Population Control Can’t Stop Climate Change”

    and “Saving Nature: Overpopulation is not the Primary Problem”

    and “1973: Ernest Mandel on Marxism and Ecology, ‘The Dialectic of Growth’”

    and The Closing Circle and Too Many People?: Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis

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