A blue sea of protesters flowed through central London today calling on Gordon Brown to take serious action to cut carbon emissions and stop climate change.
Protesters were taking part in the biggest environmental protest that Britain has ever seen. Tens of thousands of campaigners marched from Grosvenor Square to Westminster, where they formed “The Wave” and surrounded parliament.
The protest was organised by the Stop Climate Chaos organisation and brought together diverse groups of people – including environmental groups, charities, church groups, political parties, trade unions, colleges and aid agencies.
Margaret Morris travelled to the protest on a train from Manchester, organised by the Co-op. She attended a rally in Hyde Park organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change before marching to join protesters at Grosvenor Square.
“It’s important to show the government that people care about climate change,” she told Socialist Worker. “People are willing to take action but the government isn’t.
“It should bring in stricter building regulations and provide funding for people to insulate their homes. The government can find money for war in Afghanistan so it should find money for this.”
Mirfat Sulaiman came to the protest from Birmingham. “I’m concerned about the future for my children,” she told Socialist Worker. “The government should close factories that are emitting carbon and open green ones. It should create green jobs.”
Many people protesting felt that governments in richer countries saw climate change as a problem in the future, whereas poor people are dealing with the impact of climate change today.
There was a wide variety of opinions about what individuals can or should do to combat climate change – including giving up flying to turning vegan.
But there was also a general agreement that world leaders aren’t doing enough and that people need to come together to put more pressure on them.
“I expect Copenhagen to be a cop out,” said Kevin from Plymouth Trades Council. “Politicians just seem to want to meet and talk every year but do nothing concrete.
“I think they see us as selfish consumers. But we’re showing that people do care and that we want them to take some action.”
“The government is always getting lobbied by business,” added Sally Ruane from Leicester. “Companies put lots of pressure on the government – we have to make sure we are putting on more.”