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Greenwashing = Murder

Demonstrators march down Hope Street in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 3, 2021 for a march against greenwashing organized by Extinction Rebellion during COP26. (Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)

'Greenwashing = Murder': Climate Movement Marches Against Polluters' Lies in Glasgow

"In broad daylight," warned Greta Thunberg, "we are being gaslit by corporates and governments but we are exposing the climate lies."

Jessica Corbett

Climate campaigners took to the streets of Glasgow on Wednesday to denounce industry-fueled greenwashing efforts they charge are rampant within the COP26 climate summit now taking place in the Scottish city.

"I'm marching to take a stand against all companies harming the planet while offering inexcusably skewed perceptions of themselves."

Members of Extinction Rebellion (XR) along with other advocacy groups and movements who marched against greenwashing accused COP26 sponsors such as Google and the National Grid of "covering up their destructive habits with this PR trick while corrupting climate negotiations and endangering life on Earth."

Rob Callander of the group Jubilee for Climate said at the march that "one day soon, all the blah, blah, blahs of greenwash will be used as evidence against those who knew the suffering climate change was causing—and would cause—and still used their creativity to prevent action."

"There is no place for corporations, governments, or individuals who behave this way—exposing their lies is just the beginning," added the London-based 31-year-old. "Justice demands that we use their wealth and assets to repair the damage they have done."

Marchers of all ages shared how their frustration with corporate interests and government leaders motivated them to join the protest.

"I'm so tired of the number of companies profiting from a disingenuous perception of themselves as 'ethical' or 'green' when the reality is totally the opposite," said XR activist Helen Smith, a 34-year-old from Glasgow, in a statement. "It makes us all skeptical of genuine green claims at a time when this action is more important than ever."

"I'm marching to take a stand against all companies harming the planet while offering inexcusably skewed perceptions of themselves for the benefit of their own brand image," Smith said. "And to call to our government to improve regulation to make misguiding the public illegal."

Fellow XR activist Mike Grant, a retired 61-year-old from the Scottish village of Rosewell, said that "after 25 years of climate negotiation, we've seen nothing more than a massive failure of governance at every level across the world."

"So I am acting today to make clear to those gathering for COP26 that the people demand far bolder and far faster action now," he added. "Every fraction of a degree avoided is a life, a town, a species saved somewhere in the world."

Akke Houtsoma, a 20-year-old administrative worker, traveled from the Netherlands to attend COP26 protests, where activists have carried signs demanding a swift transition from fossil fuels and declaring that "Greenwashing = Murder."

"For us, there's very little hope," Houtsoma told The New York Times Wednesday. "I feel the most anxiety not about my future, but for the people right now who are suffering."

As the newspaper detailed:

A focus of the climate conference on Wednesday has been on how to pay for a global shift to cleaner energy sources. Even as a group of the world's biggest investors, banks, and insurers vowed to commit their more than $130 trillion in assets to pursuing climate goals, protesters were doubtful that the promises would be fulfilled.

"The promises coming out are quite good, but they are still just promises," said Marilyn Spurr, 74, a retired high school teacher from Devon, England, who is a member of Extinction Rebellion, a British-based activist group. "If they step up to the mark, good for them, but so far we haven't seen a lot of it."

Richard Brooks, climate finance director at the group, was similarly skeptical of the announcement that "through the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), over $130 trillion of private capital is committed to transforming the economy for net-zero."

Brooks said that "these commitments by private finance, including the world's largest fossil fuel financiers, seem more like smoke and mirrors than real climate action. It's past time to clean up balance sheets and phase out fossil fuel financing, starting in 2021 not 2030."

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg of the youth-led Fridays for Future movement said in a series of tweets Wednesday that the fossil fuel industry and banks "are among the biggest climate villains" and blasted what critics call the "false solution" of offsetting planet-heating emissions.

"Offsetting risks human rights transgressions and to harm already vulnerable communities. Offsetting is often hypocrisy and it is swirling around at #COP26," Thunberg tweeted. "In broad daylight, we are being gaslit by corporates and governments but we are exposing the climate lies."

Wednesday's action comes as critics of offsetting continue to collect signatures for a joint statement warning against supposed "nature-based solutions" like tree-planting that corporate polluters push so they can "keep burning fossil fuels, mine more of the planet, and increase industrial meat and dairy production."

As Common Dreams reported Tuesday, more than 300 groups and individuals from around the globe warn that such "purported solutions will result in 'nature-based dispossessions'" and argue that "only a rapid, time-bound plan to leaving the remaining coal, oil, and gas reserves in the ground and industrial agriculture overhauled will avert catastrophic climate chaos."

The Herald, a Glasgow-based newspaper, noted that more protests are planned for the rest of COP26, including a Fridays for Future march in two days; a justice-focused event in the Scottish city on Saturday, set to be a global day of action; and several smaller protests scheduled for next week.

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