Climate change campaigners take to streets of St Albans

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans. - Credit: Toby Shepheard Photography

Hundreds of people took to the streets of St Albans at the weekend to demand climate justice.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans. - Credit: Toby Shepheard Photography

A crowd of around 500 people gathered near the Alban Arena before marching through the city centre to the Clock Tower for speeches.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans. - Credit: Toby Shepheard Photography

Saturday's event coincided with the worldwide COP26 Day of Climate Action, and speakers included Heidi Carruthers of Wilder St Albans, local MP Daisy Cooper and a speech prepared by University of Hertfordshire climate scientist Dr Philip Porter. 

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans. - Credit: Toby Shepheard Photography

It was organised by St Albans and District Friends of the Earth and supported by numerous local groups including environmental groups,  local churches, wildlife groups, schools and political parties. 

Daisy Cooper MP speaking at the COP26 Day of Action in St Albans.

Daisy Cooper MP speaking at the COP26 Day of Action in St Albans. - Credit: Toby Shepheard Photography

Amanda Yorwerth of St Albans FoE said: “The turnout here was amazing, and the message to our leaders was clear: ditch fossil fuels and prioritise safeguarding the climate for everyone on the planet.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans. - Credit: Toby Shepheard Photography

"We need to pull the plug on climate wrecking projects like a new coal mine in Cumbria, new oil fields including Cambo near the Shetlands and investment in a gas mega-project in Mozambique."

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans. - Credit: Toby Shepheard Photography

Dr Philip Porter prepared a moving speech which was read by Amanda: “During my 28-year career as a glacier scientist I have been privileged to work in some of the world’s most beautiful and remote places.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans. - Credit: Toby Shepheard Photography

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"This privilege comes with an alarming reality however, as I witness first-hand the rapid and accelerating changes in our glaciated regions that will ultimately come to affect us all. From the Himalayas to the High Arctic, the story is the same and is one of rapid and accelerating change.”

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans. - Credit: Toby Shepheard Photography

He said we must refuse to accept ‘business as usual’ from our elected representatives.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans. - Credit: Toby Shepheard Photography

Daisy Cooper quoted Greta Thunberg, accusing the COP26 climate talks of being more Blah Blah Blah and stirred the crowd into chants of “There’s no Planet B”.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans. - Credit: Toby Shepheard Photography

Heidi Carruthers of the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and project leader of Wilder St Albans added: “The people have spoken, now we need our leaders to act.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans. - Credit: Toby Shepheard Photography

"Our wild spaces are part of the solution to combatting climate change, and natural solutions must be at the forefront of our national and local plans to get to net zero."

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans. - Credit: Toby Shepheard Photography

At the heart of the event was a model globe, made from recycled materials by volunteers and featuring the hopes of local people for the COP26 climate talks.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans. - Credit: Toby Shepheard Photography

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans.

The COP26 Day of Action in St Albans. - Credit: Toby Shepheard Photography

Daisy said afterwards: “The impressive turn-out for this peaceful protest demonstrated that people in St Albans care passionately about tackling the climate emergency. 

“While COP26 may be looking like a bit of a cop-out, it’s great that so many people – both here in St Albans, as well as at the hundreds of other demonstrations that took place all around the country – are demanding action and making world leaders hear their voices.  

“There is no planet B – and while we’re hearing a lot of strong rhetoric coming out of COP26, the reality needs to be stronger still. I've already persuaded the all-party parliamentary group on climate change to develop a policy tracker so we can assess everything the government says it's doing against what it needs to be doing, and I'll continue to work cross-party to demand more ambitious action from the government.” 


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