Thousands of people marched through Edinburgh on Saturday 12th November as part of Global Day of Action during the UN Climate Conference COP27.

The March was demanding action on warmer homes, better public transport and a speedy transition away from oil and gas. This will help address the cost of living crisis as well as cut climate pollution.

The route through the capital took the crowd past different stops highlighting the banks, polluters and governments who are driving climate breakdown.

The event also drew attention to the importance of upholding human rights in responding to the climate crisis, both here in the UK and around the world. The issue of brutal repression of civil society in Egypt has come under the spotlight as they host COP27.

The march was one of over 40 events across the UK and Ireland on a Global Day of Action for Climate Justice.

Campaigners marched through Edinburgh Credit: Neil Hanna
COP27 Edinburgh Climate March

The Stops along the Climate March route

The march kicked off by demanding action on a global scale for climate justice.

People heard how communities in the Global South need urgent climate finance and reparations for the loss and damages that have caused mass destruction of lives and livelihoods. This is one of the priority issues for Global South countries at the UN climate talks COP27.

Credit: Neil Hanna

Extinction Rebellion’s Red Rebels gave a powerful performance and drew attention to how much has already been lost to climate breakdown.

Joan Forehand, from Extinction Rebellion Scotland said that “None of us are going to be insulated from the climate crisis but there is terrible injustice and unfairness to this catastrophe.

“The wealthy have caused the most emissions, yet it is the poorest of humanity who are going to suffer disproportionately. Their natural resources have been extracted to create wealth for others. They are losing their homes, their futures and their lands and they don’t have the resources to protect themselves or rebuild their lives.

“It’s only fair that loss and damage payments are given to those who will suffer the most from this crisis, through no fault of their own. Without the justice of loss and damage, efforts to avoid ever worsening climate breakdown will stall and everyone will suffer.”

Banks are financing climate destruction

Global Justice Now held protests outside the HSBC bank on Hanover Street, drawing attention to the bank’s role in charging high interest rates for debt repayments from African countries.

‘Bankers’ outside HSBC on Hanover Street. Credit: Colin Hattersley

Countries in the Global South are currently spending 5 times more on unjust debt repayments than they are addressing the impact of the climate crisis.

Liz Murray, head of Scottish campaigns at Global Justice Now explained why they were taking action: “This profit-driven system is hurting us all – here in the UK and around the world. And countries in the Global South are getting hit particularly hard. They’re suffering some of the worst impacts of climate change, despite having played almost no part in causing it, and they’re additionally burdened by enormous debts.

“We showed people that banks here in Scotland are implicated in that – with companies like HSBC and BlackRock making big profits from the interest on those debts and refusing to cancel them.”

Protestors outside Santander Bank. Credit Neil Hanna

Natasha Ion, climate campaigner at Banktrack, said their organisation would be outside Santander bank on Hanover Street highlighting the fact that world’s largest banks have pumped $4.6 trillion dollars into fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement was signed.

Santander also finances the world’s largest meat packing company JBS, who are hugely complicit in Amazon deforestation in Brazil.

Ion explainer: “The climate march made clear to the banks that they must go beyond burning, and stop financing the extractivism that is wrecking the planet. The fossil fuel industry is one of the main drivers of climate change, and has been implicated in endless human rights violations, primarily against Indigenous communities and those on the frontlines of extraction in the Global South.

“Commercial banks also finance major companies guilty of mass deforestation in regions such as Latin America. The highly polluting meat and dairy industry, with massive business like JBS at the centre, has consistently encroached on indigenous lands and been active in illegal deforestation.”

No climate justice without human rights

Civic participation is essential to solving the climate crisis, and human rights are central to climate justice. Yet around the world, including here in the UK, governments are increasingly persecuting activists, cracking down on protest and restricting civic space. Civil society activists in Egypt, hosts of this year’s COP, face persecution from one of the most repressive regimes in the world.

Free Alaa. Free Them All. Credit: Colin Hattersley

Demonstrators took to East Market Street to demand freedom for all political prisoners unjustly detained by the Egyptian regime, including the high profile case of British-Egyptian blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah who is on hunger strike in prison.

Participants in the march heard loud and clear that there is no climate justice without human rights and the rallying cry of the Free Alaa campaign: We have not yet been defeated!

Stop new fossil fuel projects

Campaigners who are demanding an end to new fossil fuels projects focused their energies on the UK Government building on Sibbald Walk. Since COP26 the UK Government has opened new oil and gas fields, encouraged further exploration and is considering approving the huge Rosebank oil field that contains 500 million barrels of oil.

Protestors outside UK Government building in Edinburgh Credit: Neil Hanna

Mary O’Brien, a grandmother of 10 who is involved in the Stop Rosebank campaign said “Given the urgency and seriousness of the climate emergency, it is unbelievable that we are even having to fight against new oil and gas fields like Rosebank. But thousands of people across the UK and around the world are coming together to stop these climate-wrecking projects and to build that better future.

“I’m doing this for my grandchildren and for future generations, so that they can have a liveable planet. Thousands of people heard our call today for a rapid and fair transition away from fossil fuels to reliable, affordable renewables.”

Demand climate solutions that address cost of living

The march culminated at the Scottish Parliament with a plea to end the cost of living scandal.

With the fossil fuel energy price crisis driving the financial pressures being felt by people across Scotland, protestors from Living Rent and others were there to remind MSPs and the Scottish Government what they can and must do. Action such as insulating homes, improving public transport and speeding the transition to renewables can cut climate pollution as well as improve lives.

Protest in Harmony Credit: Neil Hanna

At the Parliament, attendees were serenaded by Rhythms of Resistance and choir group Protest in Harmony who echoed Greta Thunberg demands for ‘no more blah blah blah’ from politicians.

Huge thanks to everyone who came and marched on Saturday. Particular thanks to the stewards, musicians and performers!

The Edinburgh Climate March was organised by the Edinburgh Climate Coalition, Climate Justice Coalition, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Global Justice Now, Extinction Rebellion Scotland, Tipping Point, BankTrack, Jubilee Scotland, Scot.E3.