Tens of thousands of people marched across Britain today, Sunday, as part of a global day of protests against climate change.
Up to 50,000 people took part in a march more than a mile long in London. One demonstrator Sarah told Socialist Worker, “I hope that turning out in a massive group will show them we are paying attention and that they need to pay attention too.”
The march was called by a wide range of campaigning organisations and charities. At the closing rally Alice Hooker Stroud, a Centre for Alternative Technology scientist said, “Even if current emissions targets are met, we're looking at a few that are 3-4 or more degrees hotter," she said. That's a world I don't even want to think about, yet alone live in.
“We need to get net zero carbon emissions. We've proved that this is possible, with existing technology. We don't need fracking, we don't need nuclear, and there's no reason not to start immediately.”
There were people dressed as carbon bubbles, solar panels, melting ice-caps and a whole menagerie of polar bears and other endangered species. There were sound systems, samba bands and singing.
There were also a lot of placards with angry slogans against politicians, profit and capitalism.
Mark was on his first demonstration. He said, “The problem is that tackling climate change cuts into profits—so a lot of people need to get involved if we are to make the change."
Around 10,000 people marched in Edinburgh and 1,000 in Manchester, where the Labour Party is holding its annual conference. Protests took place in other cities including Sheffield and Cardiff.
The protests were called in the run-up to a United Nations summit on climate change in New York. The demonstration gathering in New York is set to be the biggest climate protest in US history.
Fernando Losada of the National Nurses United union spoke by audio link to a Campaign Against Climate Change conference the day before the protest. He said, “This is a first for the labour movement. More than 200 local unions are taking part, as is the whole labour scene in New York.
“Our members have been galvanised through local campaigns against the extreme energy agenda—pipelines, fracking, refinery expansion—and that is what has helped mobilise for this demonstration.”
For many the lack of progress at international summits is frustrating.
Belle an Australian student said, “It's one thing to talk about climate change in a meeting, but there aren't many politicians who are willing to take action."
The new summit reflects a sense of crisis over the near-permanent deadlock in climate negotiations. In an attempt to relate to the frustration, UN general secretary Ban Ki Moon has said even he will join the march in New York. But he and those like him are part of the problem, not the solution.
On the London protest, student Meera told Socialist Worker she has been following the climate negotiations for years.
She said, “I just saw someone with a banner saying 'system change not climate change' and that's exactly right, we need systematic change.”
The Campaign Against Climate Change has launched a new edition of its One Million Climate Jobs report. Order copies for your campaign group or union branch at campaigncc.org/greenjobs