Today I went to London for the People’s Climate March, a global mobilisation of people demanding bold climate action, ahead of the UN Climate Summit in New York on Tuesday. Over 2,600 events took place around the world today, in 156 different countries.
Even just in terms of organisation and phenomenal use of social media and logistics, that’s a huge achievement. The fact that so many people, from all walks of life and all around the world, could be bothered to spend their Sunday marching and rallying for action on climate change is incredible.
It’s easy to think people don’t care much about this stuff. Apathy is evident everywhere. But today while I was marching in solidarity with thousands of strangers, waving placards and chanting our demand for clean energy, I felt such a sense of shared passion, energy and determination that it was almost overwhelming.
People really do care about this. And all kinds of people were represented, too. All ages, many different walks of life. Only a very small minority looked like the typical environmentalist-hippie type. And although many people had pictures of the earth on their placards, this was fundamentally about humans. As one speaker at the rally put it, “climate change is the human rights issue of our age”.
We marched from Temple Place along the river Thames to the Houses of Parliament, where the march culminated in a rally with several key speakers, lots of triumphant shouting, music and live footage from the NYC march on big screens.
I took lots of pictures during the march, so I’ll show you a few of my favourites.
According to the BBC, co-organiser and campaign group Avaaz said there were at least 40,000 people at the London march. I don’t know how accurate that is, but it is very believable. When I reached the rally point at Parliament Square, a speaker triumphantly told us the march was still filling all of the space between there and our start point at Temple Place, about a mile away. It’s a shame my pictures don’t really encapsulate how there really were people as far as the eye could see. This is mostly because I’m short and had nothing but a curb to climb on. But it was big, trust me. And one of the really cool things about it was how many different groups were represented. As well as Avaaz and the usual suspects like Greenpeace, WWF and the Green Party, there were also many faith groups (Quakers, Buddhists, etc), the Women’s Institute, various community groups, celebrities, groups of students and thousands of families and individuals.
The New York march was by far the biggest, with 310,000 people taking part, according to 350.org. That’s by far the greatest climate march in world history. A phenomenal achievement!
All this is to show world leaders that we want real action on climate change. 125 heads of state are meeting in New York on Tuesday, 23rd September 2014. This UN Summit will start the tough international negotiations that will be completed next year in Paris, providing us with the long-awaited global legally binding climate deal.
Good news: UK prime minister David Cameron has stopped with his ridiculous indecisive dilly-dallying and announced he will attend the UN Summit next week. Did the public pressure help, I wonder?
Bad News: China president Xi Jinping has cancelled his attendance due to “unforeseen circumstances”. Not so good. As the biggest world emitter, it’s kind of key that China is central to the discussion. I just hope they send someone senior enough to make commitments, and Xi better get himself in gear for the big Summit in Paris 2015.
All in all today was absolutely wonderful.
You can view pictures and videos from solidarity events all over the world on the People’s Climate March website. And Twitter’s been going crazy, with the #PeoplesClimate and #ClimateMarch hashtags trending at the moment.
Now we just need to wait for Tuesday and hope our political leaders have watched and taken note of our message, and will seriously start laying the foundations for a global climate deal.
And we need to come down on them like a tonne of bricks if they don’t.
UPDATE: The People’s Climate March have estimated an incredible 670,000 people took part in yesterday’s record-breaking world-wide climate mobilisation. And they’ve put together this short video, made of clips from marches around the globe.