Scotland’s Climate March was part of a global campaign for action in advance of next week’s United Nations talks in Paris, where international leaders will attempt to hammer out a deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Campaigners are urging the Scottish and UK governments to push for strong plans to cut emissions and support countries in the developing world that will suffer most from climate change.
The march was organised by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, a coalition of 60 organisations that came together to campaign on climate change.
Patrick Harvie MSP, co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said Scotland could lead the way in the transition from fossil fuels to a low-carbon economy.
He said: “The negotiations in Paris must strike a bold deal to protect our society.
“The trend of rising global temperatures is clear and the impact will be felt by the poorest people in the world. The pollution that has caused this is the responsibility of developed nations such as ours.
“The scientific consensus is clear - we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground if we’re to limit the damage that climate change will cause. And the economic case is growing - when even the governor of the Bank of England warns that investing in fossil fuels risks devastating the economy, it’s simply not credible for governments to drag their feet.
“Scotland has the resources and the talent to lead the way. We can have many more jobs than currently exist in oil and gas if we prioritise decommissioning, renewables and energy efficient housing.”
Marchers gathered at The Meadows at 12pm before heading to the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens for a rally and live music hosted by comedian and actor Hardeep Singh Kohli.
Marchers, who gathered in the rain, were asked to wear bright colours and unite around the slogan Climate, Justice and Jobs.
Tom Ballantine, chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, said: “We’re proud that so many people in Scotland are coming together to show they care about the fate of others across the world and that they want to protect the planet that we all rely on. It’s an uplifting message of solidarity that must now be matched by our politicians.
“We need Nicola Sturgeon and David Cameron to use their influence to push for the strongest and most ambitious deal possible at Paris.”
Scottish Labour’s environmental justice spokeswoman, Sarah Boyack, said her party in Government at Holyrood would deliver regulatory change to make warm homes that tackle climate change “a 21st century reality”.
She said: “These are worrying and challenging times for renewables, so the SNP Government needs to redouble its efforts to get on with tackling climate change. Without the political will to support low carbon heat and power, we won’t tackle fuel poverty and Scottish companies will miss out on becoming leaders in making this globally important technology commercially viable.”
Environment Minister Aileen McLeod said: “It is crucial that the message from this march reaches all the way to Paris - that Scotland wants and expects an ambitious and fair climate treaty to be agreed.
“The stakes really could not be higher and it is fair to say that our future and that of generations to come, depends on a successful outcome.
“Scotland not only takes a message to Paris but we offer a model of what can be done to tackle climate change. In the countdown to these negotiations the Scottish Government has been promoting Scotland’s actions on climate change to the international community.”