On Sunday, 21 September, more than 675,000 people in cities across the world marched to demand that world leaders take serious action on climate change. Almost 3,000 events took place in 166 countries. More than 40,000 people took to the streets in London, alongside 300,000 in New York, 25,000 in Paris and 30,000 in Melbourne. Among the London marchers were actress Emma Thompson and singer Peter Gabriel, as well as hundreds of Green Party members including human rights activist Peter Tatchell and Caroline Lucas.
Protests took place ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit in New York, part of several rounds of negotiations in the run-up to settling a proposed agreement on reducing carbon emissions by the end of 2015.
The mood from the London march was hopeful, with many wondering if these protests could signal a new wave of action on climate change. One speaker from the Centre for Alternative Technology emphasised how the technology to move towards a low-carbon future is in place, it’s just the political will that is missing.
However, reports from the summit indicate that politicians have failed to deliver, holding back on guaranteeing climate aid to poorer countries or even signing up to a significant reduction in carbon emissions.
Barack Obama, François Hollande and David Cameron were among those who talked of the ‘grave threat’, but without the promise of stringent targets and little financial aid, it’s hard to have much faith in their words.
But with so many people demonstrating, we form too large a voice to ignore. Concern has spread outside of the green activist community, with thousands of ‘ordinary’ families, flood victims and young people taking part. Let’s hope that the energy and inspiration from the largest People’s Climate March in history builds into an unstoppable movement on climate change.