Glasgow, Scotland: The public pressure that helped spur more world action on global warming is due to be on full display outside the U.N. climate summit Saturday, when thousands of demonstrators are expected to march through the rainy grey streets of Glasgow to demand leaders move faster to cut fossil fuels that are wrecking the climate.
Police helicopters buzzed over Glasgow early Saturday as authorities prepared for a second day of protests by climate activists. Scots are accustomed to inclement weather, and turnout for the march was expected to be strong despite stiff gusts and a drizzle that turned to cold rain.
Inside the more than one kilometre conference venue, negotiators knuckled down for a seventh straight day of talks to finish draft agreements that can be passed to government ministers for political approval next week.
Among the issues being haggled over at the talks by almost 200 countries are a fresh commitment to the goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), getting countries to review their efforts more frequently in a way that would increase pressure for deeper cuts, and financial support for poor nations.
A Democratic and Republican delegation of US senators was scheduled to visit the summit on Saturday. Off-year Republican victories that have unsettled members of President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party gave the bipartisan visit more impact.
The summit’s daily bustle of side events on Saturday also saw British actor Idris Elba bring his star power to the UN talks, highlighting the importance of helping small farmers cope with global warming.
Elba, known for roles such as the HBO series “The Wire,” BBC One’s “Luther” and this year’s Western film “The Harder the Come,” attended with Sabrina Dhowre Elba, a model and producer and his wife. They took the stage Saturday in support of the U.N.’s International Fund for Agricultural Development.
Elba said he wanted to highlight the dangers of global food chains being disrupted as small farmers in particular are hit by erratic seasonal rains, drought and other impacts of climate change.
“This conversation around food is something that needs to be really amplified, and one thing I’ve got is a big mouth,” said Elba, adding that 80% of the food consumed worldwide is produced by small-scale farmers.
Speaking on the same panel, Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate, 24, said global warming is already causing hunger for millions around the world, including in her country.
She said a shift from meat to plant-based diets could help prevent millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year while freeing up more land for food farming that’s currently used for animal feed.
Saturday’s march was expected to draw a range of participants and ages, after tens of thousands of young people in the Fridays for Future movement protested Friday outside the conference’s steel fences and turnstiles.
Speaking at the Fridays for Future rally, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 18, branded the UN climate talks in Glasgow so far “a failure,” accusing leaders of purposefully creating loopholes in the rules and giving misleading pictures of their countries’ emissions
“World leaders are obviously scared of the truth, yet no matter how hard they try, they cannot escape it,” Thunberg said. “They cannot ignore the scientific consensus, and above all they cannot ignore us - the people, including their own children.”
Thunberg’s mix of school strikes, blunt and impatient talk about government excuses, and mass demonstrations have galvanized climate protests since 2018, especially in Europe but to a lesser extent around the world.
The climate protest movement, and worsening droughts, storms and other disasters that brought home to many the accelerating damage of global warming, has kept pressure on governments for stronger and faster action to reduce fossil fuel emissions.
The Fridays For Future protest was part of a series of demonstrations being staged around the world Friday and Saturday to coincide with the Glasgow talks.