Though united by their passion about climate change, the thousands of people converged on Glasgow Green also called for change on a diverse array of issues.
There were labor organizers, Black Lives Matter activists, advocates for Indigenous sovereignty, farmers, immigrants, feminists, Marxists.
“The fight for climate justice and the fight for social justice must go hand in hand,” Roz Foyer, general secretary for the Scottish Trades Union Congress, declared in a speech.
“We know the billionaires, the bosses and the politicians who run this planet are not going to make the changes that we need,” she said. “We need to build a huge and angry and a powerful movement for change. … Let’s make today that we all joined together.”
Again and again, speakers appealed to the need for solidarity between marginalized groups.
“Our fight is your fight,” said Betty Billot, a member of the Houma nation on the U.S. Gulf Coast, speaking about the land loss faced by Indigenous communities.
Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate pointed out how climate change disproportionately affects women and girls in her community, who must walk further to find water and who are more likely to be forced to drop out of school when economic crises hit.
“Every aspect of the climate crisis is intersectional,” declared Mitzi Tan, the Filipina Fridays for Future organizer who emceed the event. “The fight for climate justice has to be anti-colonialist, anti-fascist.”
One speaker led the crowd in call-and-response: “Globalize the struggle!” she shouted. And thousands of protesters shouted back: “Globalize the hope.”
But some Black protesters said they didn’t feel their voices were being heard among fellow climate activists, let alone among the official negotiators.
Protesters “are talking about wildfires in Canada, floods in New York — like climate change just started happening,” said Vienna Watts, a Black Lives Matter protester from Somerset, England. “But it’s been happening to us for a long time.”
She said her family in Jamaica was facing warming weather and rising seas.
“We are the first people experiencing climate change,” said Jorge Quilaqueo, a Mapuche traditional healer from Chile, who was carrying a drum and a tight sheaf of feathers and was wearing a poncho embroidered with geometric designs. “The medicinal plants of the sacred places and the springs are disappearing.”
He said he was hopeful — that’s part of his job description — but he didn’t think negotiators were listening to people like him.
They are on the path of “egoism and capitalism,” he said. “This is about changing paradigms.”