Glasgow will probably be holding summer climate marches for the rest of its history. The city and Scotland at large have come together over the weekend, as thousands of people protested across the country in support of the #ClimateReparations campaign.
The march comes days after the anniversary of the 1988 People’s Climate March, which saw nearly 600,000 protesters descend on the Seattle waterfront to demand that leaders take action to curb global warming. The cities of London, Paris, Berlin, and more have since honored the march’s legacy, with thousands of people marching in each capital city in recent years.
This year, however, a viral campaign with roots in the United States galvanized interest in Europe. It started in San Francisco in September 2018 with a tweet from Ocean Beach artist Don Black Jr. The tweet read, “Why has the U.S. not demanded reparations for the climate chaos it has caused?… I’m absolutely, 100% sure that the U.S. helped determine the climate we inhabit.”
The tweet prompted an outpouring of pleas for such a movement from environmentalists across the world. Hundreds of individuals have written in with their support, some including authors Anthony Bourdain and Tom Perrotta and musician Sheryl Crow. Some have publicly called the issue of climate change a “financial emergency” for America. Others have found political allies in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the 23-year-old freshman congresswoman who has forged a reputation for pushing climate change issues forward.
As of Feb. 22, the goal of the #ClimateReparations campaign is to collect at least 5 million signatures supporting its cause—and by the end of Feb. 21, organizers were at 5.2 million. The campaign, which seeks to put the issue on the international political agenda, estimates that it would cost approximately US$600 billion for the U.S. and up to US$23 trillion worldwide to meet the United Nations’ Paris Climate Agreement goals. That means that the cost would come from financial reparations from countries that have contributed to this crisis.
Representatives from political parties across Europe, including the Green Party and the Dutch Greens, have endorsed the movement. Some have suggested the names of American companies that have gotten rich from fossil fuels and should be the first to be reparations recipients.
#ClimateReparations is scheduled to be debated in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, Feb. 28, at an ongoing session.