As delegates inside the COP26 conference hall in Glasgow heard promises of new private-sector funding for climate change, protesters marched in the city on Wednesday in opposition to “greenwashing” — when companies claim to be protecting the environment while continuing to harm it.
More than 100 protesters, holding signs that read “Act now!” and “Stop Funding Fossil Fuels,” gathered outside a shopping mall to demand that companies take more substantial steps.
“For us, there’s very little hope,” said Akke Houtsoma, 20, an administrative worker who had traveled from the Netherlands to attend protests outside the climate conference. “I feel the most anxiety not about my future, but for the people right now who are suffering.”
A focus of the climate conference on Wednesday has been on how to pay for a global shift to cleaner energy sources. Even as a group of the world’s biggest investors, banks and insurers vowed to commit their more than $130 trillion in assets to pursuing climate goals, protesters were doubtful that the promises would be fulfilled.
“The promises coming out are quite good, but they are still just promises,” said Marilyn Spurr, 74, a retired high school teacher from Devon, England, who is a member of Extinction Rebellion, a British-based activist group. “If they step up to the mark, good for them, but so far we haven’t seen a lot of it.”
Activists said there needed to be stronger ways to hold companies to account for their promises, many of which never materialize. Of at least $1.1 trillion that private equity firms have invested in the energy sector since 2010, most went toward fossil fuels, according to data from Pitchbook, a company that tracks investment, and an analysis by the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, a nonprofit that pushes for more disclosure about private equity deals.
Protests planned for Friday and Saturday in Glasgow are expected to draw tens of thousands. A youth-led strike organized by Fridays for Future, the international movement that has grown out of Greta Thunberg’s solo strike in 2018 in Sweden, will see thousands march from Kelvingrove Park to George’s Square.