Climate protesters plotted to cause chaos at Cop26 in Glasgow today after Greta Thunberg said sometimes you have to ‘p*** people off’ to protect the environment.
The activist voiced support for the tactics of road-blocking group Insulate Britain as demonstrators from various groups gathered amid a £100million policing operation.
As representatives of 200 nations gather to thrash out a deal to try to limit global warming to 1.5C, thousands of officers were in place and erected a ring of steel.
Among the first protests today was a group of Oxfam activists wearing ‘big heads’ of world leaders dressed in kilts and holding bagpipes at Royal Exchange Square.
Those represented were Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden, Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, France’s President Emmanuel Macron, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China’s President Xi Jinping.
An average of 10,000 officers from Police Scotland and forces around Britain will be on duty every day for three weeks, with the UK Government picking up the bill.
It comes after Miss Thunberg, 18, who began the school strike climate change protests, was asked on the Andrew Marr Show whether ‘blocking roads’ was justified.
Oxfam activists with ‘big heads’ of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi, France’s President Emmanuel Macron, US President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China’s President Xi Jinping in Glasgow this morning
Environmental campaigners of Joe Biden, Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel in Glasgow today
Eco campaigners with ‘big heads’ of key world leaders, including Joe Biden and Boris Johnson, dressed in kilts and with bagpipes gather at Royal Exchange Square in Glasgow today
Activists with big heads of Joe Biden and Boris Johnson demonstrate in Glasgow this morning
She said: ‘As long as no-one gets hurt… then I think sometimes you need to anger some people. Like, for instance, the school strike movement would never have become so big if there wasn’t friction, if some people didn’t get p***** off.’
In Glasgow, a ring of steel is being erected around the conference site on the north bank of the River Clyde as security forces brace for threats to the heads of state in attendance and potential disruption from climate change protesters.
And police will even deploy specially trained officers equipped with high-tech devices that can bring down rogue drones using electromagnetic pulses.
Police expect to make 300 arrests a day but sources warned if the number gets much higher, custody suites will be overwhelmed.
Meanwhile, a report found last month almost half of Scotland’s police officers have experienced high levels of fatigue in the previous fortnight, which does not bode well for a three-week conference during which many will have to work 12-hour shifts.
Delegates queue as they arrive for the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow this morning
Police officers patrol a roadblock at the entrance to the Clydeside Express in Glasgow today
A motorcade (left) with a police escort travels along Kingsway in Glasgow this morning
People arrive for the Cop26 summit in Glasgow today after police formed a ring of steel
Police officers stand guard at a roadbloack at an entrance to the Clydeside Express today
Police officers hold back cars as a convoy makes its way onto the Clydeside Express today
Scotland’s lawyers have also vowed to boycott weekend custody courts amid an ongoing row over legal aid cuts. This means the justice system could be plunged into chaos by the sheer number of people arrested at the event.
US President Joe Biden is among more than 100 world leaders expected to attend the event.
The summit will also feature a climate rally in Glasgow that could be attended by more than 150,000 people.
Tens of thousands of delegates from 193 member states and four observer states will attend the summit, with the SEC conference venue designated a ‘blue zone’ – meaning it will be policed by the UN, with Scottish police only allowed to enter if there is a threat to life.
Police officers watch from a footbridge above Kingsway in the centre of Glasgow this morning
Police on a bridge above Kingsway in the centre of Glasgow at the start of Cop26 this morning
Climate activist Greta Thunberg is interviewed on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday
Climate activist Greta Thunberg arrives at Glasgow Central train station on Saturday
Miss Thunberg voiced support for the tactics of road-blocking group Insulate Britain. The activists are seen bringing traffic to a standstill on Bishopsgate in the City of London last week
Miss Thunberg said she speaks to activists in countries like China where they do not have the same rights, and added: ‘It makes you just feel so grateful that we are actually able to protest and that just puts more responsibility on us who actually have the right to protest, to use that right.’
She also attacked Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget and said policies such as cuts to air passenger duty show ‘climate action is not really [Britain’s] priority’.
Asked about Mr Sunak’s policy in the Budget of cutting air passenger duty by 50 per cent on internal flights, Miss Thunberg added: ‘When you see a pattern of these policies, that all the time are avoiding taking real action, then I think you can draw conclusions from that pattern. That climate action is not really our main priority right now.’
She criticised China for being ‘out of touch’ on the climate crisis but warned there will always be other countries to blame for not doing enough and urged the world to work together.