Local climate change campaigners travelled together to London on Saturday to join the ‘Time to Act’ demonstration on climate change.
The march was a positive and encouraging day in the spring sunshine. Up to 20,000 people demonstrated, calling on politicians and candidates to make climate change their number one priority two months before the General Election.
In September 2014 over 600,000 people demanded action on climate change around the world, including 40,000 in London and 400,000 in New York.
The organisers of the ‘Time to Act’ march say: “2015 needs to be even bigger. The climate talks in Paris this December are crucial if we’re going to protect all that we love. Our movement is growing, and we’re more diverse and determined than ever before.
Across the UK people are already building change – from divestment of funds which prop up the fossil fuel industry, to frontline communities fighting unsustainable energy extraction and fracking, through to those paving the way for a transition towards a 100% renewable energy future which would bring about an estimated one million new climate jobs in the UK alone. We know what needs to be done; the solutions are here now. Climate must be at the top of every politician’s agenda. ”
Many of the Huddersfield-based protesters are experienced in running community environmental projects – from food growing schemes to warm homes advice and from energy co-operatives to film screenings and discussion events. But all agree that the government is not doing enough on climate change.
Here’s why they attended the march:
I marched because I want the politicians to protect my future and the future of other children around the world. Hope Solanki-Willats
I went to the Time to Act march because it is more than Time to Act. We need politicians to act themselves and publicly acknowledge the need for all of us to do so. Better some small sacrifices now than 3 or 4 degrees in 30 or 40 years’ time. Janet Williams
I marched because I want the government to stop climate change by making trains and buses better. Ray Solanki-Willats
I attended the Time to Act demonstration to remind politicians and all parliamentary candidates that climate change should be at the top of their agenda. The science says we must move to a low carbon economy and the technology says we can move to a low carbon economy. The last piece of the jigsaw is political will, which is why this demonstration is so important. Tim Padmore
Climate change threatens the well-being of hundreds of millions of people today and many billions more in the future. It undermines the basic human rights to food, water, health and shelter. I marched to demand that our politicians accept climate change as the biggest challenge of our time and radical climate action as their urgent moral duty. Mita Solanki-Willats
I marched because we must see climate change given massively more attention in the run-up to the election. We’ve got to start moving towards a low-carbon economy. Jean Margetts
This march was a moment for our diverse climate movement to come together to demand consistent, radical policies that genuinely measure up to the latest climate science. A moment to demand that Britain – the first nation to industrialise – leads efforts at the UN conference in Paris in December to coordinate the international action needed to avoid extreme climate change. It’s a moment to give permission to our leaders to actually lead on climate action and explore this precious opportunity to build a fairer future that works for the many. Iain Solanki-Willats
The march had been at the centre of controversy during February when the Metropolitan Police had suggested that they would not be able to police the event. Following an e-petition by Avaaz – supported by 60,000 people and criticism from figures like Mayor of London Boris Johnson – the police agreed to facilitate the protest.
‘Time to Act’ was supported by high profile figures including the fashion designer, Vivienne Westwood who produced a promotional film for the demonstration https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOlNuqJ87eM
Protesters were organised into different ‘blocs’. Campaigners against fracking from around the country attended, along with many trade unionists, calling for ‘One Million Climate Jobs’. Thousands of students also attended, reflecting the growing demand for universities to ‘divest’ from fossil fuels.
Speakers included Caroline Lucas MP, John Sauven of Greenpeace and the Leader of the Fire Brigades Union. Naomi Klein and Vivienne Westwood spoke via video message. Perhaps one of the most powerful speakers was 12 year old Laurel. “We need action now. Not in ten years’ time, not fifty years’ time, but now,” she said. “It’s our future, not theirs.”
Notes and references
Time to Act website http://www.timetoact2015.org/
Coverage of the march in The Independent http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/climate-change-must-stay-on-political-agenda-say-protesters-10093586.html
News coverage of Metropolitan Police controversy http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/feb/26/met-backs-down-on-refusal-to-police-climate-and-womens-marches