Climate protesters hit the streets across Britain

While the politicians were blah-blah-blah-ing at the COP26 conference in Glasgow today, millions of people were marching around the world in over 300 actions for climate justice. In Britain, the biggest march was in Glasgow, where up to 100,000 people marched with soaring sprits despite pouring rain. Up to 25,000 joined the demonstration in London, while thousands joined marches in Sheffield, Cardiff, Oxford, Brighton and Birmingham. Activists reported over 1,000 in Manchester, Nottingham and Cambridge, and there were also marches in many more places (reports and pics welcome in comments!)

Banner reads: Workers of the world, unite! #System Change Not Climate Change

Despite initially appalling weather, the Glasgow protest was a great success. Up to 100,000 joined protests with lively (and sometimes angry) chanting.

Group with placards, mainly People of Colour

The march was extremely political, not

just about climate change in isolation, but about the intersections between racism, colonialism and environmental disaster. There were many Black people and People of Colour, and an impressive international presence.

XR kept people entertained with lots of drumming and there were many creative placards and models (such as a life-size whale skeleton), and Neptune on stilts!

Unite boycott Weetabix banner

There was a solid trade union presence, including some of the Weetabix workers striking against Fire and Rehire. Unions included UNISON, UNITE, CWU, GMB,  EIS, UCU, and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions.
In London a trade union bloc in the high hundreds heard speeches from various unions, then marched to the Bank of England to join the main protest. PCS, UNISON and Unite, and others were all represented but UCU probably had more banners than any other union. A marching band started the energy high.
The London demo
Crowd with smoke and banner reading JP Morgan is killing the planet
Photo: Steve Eason

The day included a protest at JP Morgan, highlighting the role of the finance sector in funding the fossil fuel industry.

There wasn’t very much chanting on the main march, but small blocs did lead chants. Though there wasn’t the energy across the whole crowd of some really angry demos, there was buzz from all the different groups being together. The march was very long and took about 3 hours, but the energy kept up throughout.
Banner reads: Close the polluters, open the borders
Banner reads: still fighting co2onialism. Your profits kill
Photo: Steve Eason
Crowd in Trafalgar Square
Photo: Steve Eason

When we reached Trafalgar square there was a giant lorry stage with huge screen above it and PA system. Unfortunately the long march meant the crowd rapidly shrank. Speeches were almost all from Women of Colour, and many of them represented the Global South and land defenders.

Between three and four thousand people marched through Oxford to a rally in Broad Street.

Placard reads: put capitalism in the compost
Photo: John Walker

The march attracted large numbers of people who don’t normally come on demonstrations, as well as the usual suspects. This was  shown by the variety of slogans on the placards and banners, varying from the outright revolutionary to the belief that we should all pull together to solve a common crisis.

Both he local Oxford MPs – Anneliese Dodds and Layla Moran spoke. Too many others focused on what politicians should do rather than building a

Banner reads: of course we're missing all our emissions targets! Fossil fuel interests donate £millions to the Tories
Photo: John Walker

mass movement.  One disappointment was that Oxford XR turned down the offer of a speaker, although Oxford Youth XR had two speakers. Good speeches were made by George Monbiot, who was not a scheduled speaker but was spotted in the crowd, Nick Eyre of the Oxford University Environmental Change Institute (who pointed out that nuclear power was not a solution to climate change) and Nabila Hafiz of Oxford Help The World (who raised the issues of flooding in Bangladesh and the the ecological disaster that is the Israeli occupation of Palestine).

In Brighton over 2000 took part in a lively demo led off by the Woodcraft Folk.
Disabled people in front of wider banner

Banner reads: Global day for climate justiceIn Manchester a union / worker bloc, led by the PCS samba band, marched to join the main demonstration (see video). About 1500 gathered in St Peter’s Square, heard speeches and marched around the city centre. Though this was the main demonstration for the North-West region, only UNISON and PCS had their regional banners there and mobilisation appeared to have been left to activists, with no visible presence of union officials.

Among the other demonstrations were Bristol, Cambridge, Sheffield, Norwich and Carlisle.

Banner reads: capitalism is the crisis
Bristol
Crowd in Cambridge
Cambridge
Crowd in Sheffield
Sheffield
Crowd in Norwich
Norwich
Protesters in Carlisle
Carlisle. Photo: Patricia Gilligan

In Dundee on Friday a march set off very promptly from Magdelen Green, and went along

Crowd in Dundee
Dundee

Perth Road past the supportive striking Unite members at Dundee University, did a loop in the city centre before speeches outside Caird Hall. There were around 200 people there, and a good mix of speakers including a student from Dundee High, someone from the Botanic Gardens, Living Rent and Dundee UNISON.

At these protests and more, rs21 members were joining in, handing out a leaflet, selling the new pamphlet: We only want the earth: Anti-capitalism against the climate crisis, and encouraging people to join in one of the discussions rs21 is hosting following COP26.

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