GLASGOW, Scotland — Across the river from where British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, United States President Joe Biden and more than 100 other world leaders are meeting to discuss how to tackle climate change, protesters dressed up as the summit’s key political players and mimicked a giant game of tug of war.
At other times, people wearing masks of Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping play-fought over an inflatable beach ball of Earth.
The Glasgow Actions Team, which organized the Tuesday demonstration, said it hopes the over-the-top antics send a clear message to politicians: “Stop playing climate games with our future.”
The activities were part of a “Squid Game”-themed protest and featured people dressed in jumpsuits and helmets like guards from the hit Netflix show. The event was one of a number of demonstrations planned around the city over the next two weeks, as Scotland hosts the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also called COP26.
On the second full day of the global summit, activists vowed to keep pressuring world leaders to put politics aside and take aggressive steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“What we want world leaders to do is take their rhetoric, take their promises, pack them away and take action instead,” said Fatima Ibrahim, co-executive director of Green New Deal U.K.
Ibrahim said some progress has been made early on in the conference, including a landmark commitment signed Tuesday by more than 100 world leaders to end and reverse deforestation by 2030. But she added that addressing the climate crisis demands more than piecemeal promises.
“It means stopping all new fossil fuel infrastructure, rapidly decarbonizing our economies, delivering millions of green new jobs for ordinary working people who need a stake in this transition and securing a livable future for people and the planet,” Ibrahim said.
Eighteen-year-old activist Greta Thunberg took part in a protest Monday outside the conference venue, lambasting leaders for failing to uphold aggressive climate pledges. “No more blah, blah, blah,” she chanted along with the crowd.
Thunberg and other well-known youth climate activists — including Vanessa Nakate from Uganda, Dominika Lasota from Poland and Mitzi Tan from the Philippines — released an open letter Monday saying political leaders have betrayed young people by failing to address climate change. The letter, which has more than 1.4 million signatures, urged world leaders to “face up to the climate emergency.”
“This is not a drill. It’s code red for the Earth,” they wrote in the letter. “Millions will suffer as our planet is devastated — a terrifying future that will be created, or avoided, by the decisions you make. You have the power to decide.”
Ibrahim added that activists need to continue to push governments even after the climate summit wraps up next week.
“A two-week negotiation will never deliver something that satisfies us,” she said. “This is going to be the fight of our lives, and what we need is for that work to be done every day.”