Socialist Worker

600 join the debate on climate change

by Martin Empson
Issue No. 2022

The Campaign Against Climate Change packed out Conway Hall in London for a public meeting last week. Among a panel of varied speakers was George Monbiot, there to launch his new book Heat - How to Stop the Planet Burning.

George was greeted enthusiastically by the crowd and each of the speakers contributed to the debate about how we can save the planet.

Even though many of the audience had been environmental campaigners for years, the reality of the consequences of climate change still shocked many people.

From the World Development Movement we heard how in a country as ravaged by war as the Democratic Republic of Congo, climate change is already devastating crops.

The poorest nations are the ones that will suffer most and quickest from uncontrolled climate change, but the richest nations cannot ignore the peril.

Already this year London’s Thames Barrier has been raised 36 times - compared to four times throughout the entire 1980s.

Tony Kearns, senior deputy general secretary of the CWU union, argued that just as people have fought and won in the past, even though the odds looked impossible, we can save the planet today.

For the Campaign Against Climate Change, Phil Thornhill talked about the importance of the November demonstration in London.

Finally Monbiot summarised his book’s main conclusions - that we must rapidly achieve a 90 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions.

He pointed out that his book would upset many people because, he says, some of the solutions offered by environmentalists in the past are useless in the face of some of the worst polluting practices - particularly unrestricted long haul flights.

Happily he does offer concrete alternatives for housing, transport, retail and power generation. However Monbiot refused to say how he thought these ideas could be “politically” brought into practice, saying it was up to the audience to work that out.

This provoked great debate about what could be done and what must be done. The size of the audience and the fraternal debate that took place shows a willingness to fight to save the world and the potential to build a fantastic demonstration.

National Climate March, London, Saturday 4 November. Protests also in Bolivia, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Nicaragua, Argentina, South Korea, Philippines, New Zealand, Australia, Bangladesh, South Africa, Kenya, and 20 countries in Europe. Go to for more information

George Monbiot interview, see SR magazine

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Article information

Sat 14 Oct 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2022
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