On November 29th hundreds of thousands of people joined “The People’s Climate March” in cities across the world to call for decisive action against global warming at the upcoming COP21 conference in Paris. More than 600,000 people have taken to the streets in 175 countries around the world to call for a strong deal in Paris that will see a swift transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. This was the second year the people’s march was organised. The loosely organised movement aims to put pressure on decision makers meeting in Paris for another United Nations conference on how to combat and mitigate climate change.
— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace) November 30, 2015
The International Post Magazine asked Sonja Wiencke, an environmental activist and graduate student at the University of Oxford, to give an insider account of the dynamics and demands of the March in London on Sunday 29th.
“What do we want?” Climate Justice! “When do we want it?“ “Now!”
I am shouting with all the others at the top of my voice for probably the 100th time. My voice sounds rather hoarse at this point and my banner is blown apart by the wind, but I’m grinning at my newly found friends as we respond even louder to „What do we want?“.
If your image of a demonstrator is an angry face and shaking fists, this couldn’t have been more misleading. The people at the London climate march are loud, yes, and proudly disrupting traffic on the main streets between Marble Arch and Westminster. But angry? Not noticeably so.
The people crowding London’s streets this Sunday are incredibly diverse. They have come from literally all backgrounds and all ages: some of them have probably followed all of the 20 UN conferences on climate change, while others are so young they are happily using the banners as toys. Some go around distributing vegan food, others collecting donations for legal actions, several groups play drums or brass and dance, all of them press leaflets into my hands, which promote campaigns to divest from fossil fuel, create more climate jobs, stop eating animal products, adopt animals, stop bombing in Syria and donate for freezing refugees in Calais. A child dressed like a polar-bear has fallen asleep in his buggy, while he is pushed past a group of Klezmer musicians that set up a small street party outside the parliament buildings. On the windy street, a group of people in colourful fancy dress are holding on to their costumes as parts of banners swirl down the street, past very determined guys handing out „the Social Worker“ papers.
And yet, none of us just came here because we have nothing better to do on a Sunday – we are all here for the same reason. Whether we are interested in animal welfare, in social equality, in clean technology or in affordable energy for all, the need and urgence to fight climate change is something we all agree on. 50 000 (or 70 000, according to organisers) people in London and hundreds of thousands of people around the world have gone past the stage of ignorant rejection (no need to name the most prominent trumpets of climate scepticism here) and accepted that climate change is probably the most important issue facing our generation and, if we fail, those to come. The speeches held on that topic will be quoted in tomorrow’s papers much better than I could, but there is a clear sense at this march that this is not a lament, a memorial march to our beautiful planet. This is a march saying there are solutions to climate-related problems and if we implement them, we can save the environment at the same time that we make our society more just. All we need is enough people in enough critical positions to make enough critical decisions.
The message to global leaders meeting in Paris tomorrow should be clear: Deeds, not words. „What do we want?“ ” Climate Justice!“ „When do we want it?“ „Now!“