Environmental campaigners demand action over climate change in passionate protest in Portsmouth city centre

ENVIRONMENTAL activists demanded action over climate change in a raucous protest in the city as world leaders gathered in Glasgow for the COP26 summit.

Sunday, 7th November 2021, 12:44 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 3:43 pm

Campaigners issued rallying cries with speeches on the steps of Guildhall Square as around 300 people gathered on Saturday lunchtime.

It was the second consecutive day of protests in Portsmouth.

COP26 protesters then embarked on a passionate march through the city centre including stopping off outside Barclays Bank - opposite HSBC - on Commercial Road, where they jeered and booed the financial institutions.

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Gerald Vernon-Jackson and Portsmouth Liberal Democrats at the COP26 demonstration. Picture: Mike Cooter (061121)

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The colourful march - met with a mixture of support, indifference and hostility from those in the area - included a giant Grim Reaper, serving to reinforce the perilous position of the planet.

A host of campaign groups from the area joined forces to urge politicians to ‘take action before it is too late’.

Christine McMillan, 67, of Southsea, was on the march.

Placards at the COP26 demonstration. Picture: Mike Cooter (061121)

She said: ‘It (the protest) has to make a difference. If we don’t do something then it’s hopeless.

‘I’ve got a 10-year-old grandson and I can’t bear the thought that in 50 years, when I’m dead, he could say “grandma knew what was going to happen...why didn’t she do something?” So however little, I will do what I can and hope and pray it makes a difference.

‘It’s inspiring to see all the various organisations come together. It’s been a very good turnout. One couple said they normally go to London but came here from Guildford because they thought it was more important to support local events.’

Matt Smith, a theatre lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, was holding a large blow-up dolphin plagued by plastic from the ocean.

Placards at the COP26 demonstration. Picture: Mike Cooter (061121)

He said: ‘I was swimming in the Solent a few weeks ago and now I can't because it is polluted.

‘It’s time for people to start to think about (climate change) locally and globally. In a few years time floods and rising tides are really going to hit the city. We need to find solutions that are not just sticking plasters. If we don’t take action then that’s it...we’ll have the next extinction moment for us as a species.’

The police-escorted protest provoked views from those watching as it brought traffic to a standstill amid its deafening and defiant messages to world leaders.

Ian Bell, 64, of North End, said: ‘It’s a good idea (the protest) but it won’t work. If you don’t get China on board there’s no chance. They open a new power station every month so protesting won’t make a difference.’

Placards at the COP26 demonstration. Picture: Mike Cooter (061121)

Mohammed Noradin, who works in First Class Barbers on Charlotte Street, said: ‘People need to make a change. All of us need to stand up. The way it is going is crazy.’

A worker from Andy’s Ex-Government Surplus Stores said Charlotte Street was ‘the busiest it’s been in years’ as protesters poured past.

Simon Magorian, of Stand Up to Racism, said: ‘People are angry about the way things are going with a lot of talking (from politicians) but we want action.

‘The leaders are out of touch with the people who overwhelmingly want action.

‘That’s why so many people are turning out up and down the country.’

Crowds at the COP26 demonstration. Picture: Mike Cooter (061121)

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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