On the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice, thousands of people marched in towns and cities across the UK to demand urgent climate action
London - Shabbir Lakha
An estimated 20,000 people marched through London on Saturday in a strong show of opposition to the climate inaction of world leaders gathered in Glasgow. The march began outside the Bank of England - an apt starting point that brought the fight right to the doorsteps of the financial power brokers responsible for the climate crisis.
It was a lively and energetic march which brought together trade unions, young school strikers and other climate activists, the anti-war and pro-Palestine movements, Black Lives Matter, faith groups and many more. The trade union bloc marched behind a banner that read: "Workers of the world unite! System change not climate change".
The overwhelming message on placards and banners was that we need radical change and we need it now. Many quoted the words of Greta Thunberg calling out world leaders' bluster as "blah blah blah". There was a sense that what we were doing in mobilising on the streets carried more weight than the backdoor shenanigans of the elite who'd flown into Glasgow on their private jets to provide no tangible solutions, but instead moralising about our individual carbon footprints.
The prominence of trade unionists was key to showing that this is a working class issue, and that workers are central to the solution. It was also important that there was a wide range of communities and causes represented on the march, and we must continue to ensure that the fight for climate justice is central to all other movements, and vice versa.
Sheffield - John Westmoreland
Some 1,500 protesters took to the streets of Sheffield on Saturday.
The mood was angry with a large number of students in attendance. Homemade placards carried by children caught the mood best.
The demo was well supported by trade unions and climate campaign groups, and some trade union speakers effectively linked the Tories’ dismal response to climate change to wider issues and the Tories’ anti-working class policies.
The march through the city centre was well received by the public despite the hold-up to some traffic.
Luton - Janet Oryem
Stoke-on-Trent - Joe McCluskey
It was cold and it was wet, but that didn’t stop around 50 “aggravated activists” gathering in Albion square as part of the COP26 coalition's global day for climate justice. The event started with speeches from campaigners from various groups ranging from the North Staffs TUC, CND to Stop HS2 all united on the principle that we demand “system change, not climate change!”
There was then a march around the town centre that stopped at the branches of banks/building societies where activists read out the COP26 coalition demands and urged onlookers and marchers to join the campaigns for divestment in the fossil fuel industry.
Brighton - Liv Singh and Ellen Graubart
As our global leaders sat in the city of Glasgow discussing their “blah, blah blah” agenda for the future of our planet, an energised demonstration of perhaps 2,000 people marched through the centre of Brighton on Saturday with chants of: “What do we want? Climate Justice! When do we want it? Now!” accompanied by the loud and rhythmic Extinction Rebellion drummers.
One woman I spoke to on the march told me that it was the first demonstration she’d ever been on and she was in her 70s. Her concern was for her grandchildren and the world that they will live in.
The demonstration began at the Level, where a magnificent red ship complete with funnel with the words ‘SOUND THE ALARM, CLIMATE EMERGENCY’ in large letters on the port side and ‘ACT NOW’ on the starboard side, and the name ‘GRETA’ on the prow was waiting. Ingeniously constructed by Extinction Rebellion out of a complicated assembly of metal tubing covered in red plastic sheeting and mounted on cycle wheels, Greta was definitely the star of the event and accompanied protesters on the march.
The demonstration brought together many different social justice and political groups, the banners of Extinction Rebellion, Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Global Justice Now, SWP, Socialist Alliance and many others were seen.
The march began in the sunshine and ended with a rally on a very wild and windy seafront - a bit like the future facing us if action on climate change isn’t taken now. Speakers from various groups were introduced by Paddy O'Keefe from Brighton Counterfire. Although the various speakers concentrated on different aspects of changes to the climate, they were all in agreement that all the different aspects are interrelated: all agreed that what is needed is system change, not the new form of colonisation/late capitalism of today which allows global corporations to exploit so-called undeveloped countries for their natural resources.
Our survival, and life on the planet’s survival depends on breaking down barriers that separate and alienate us from each other. Capitalism works through division, by destroying unity. We must work through creating unity, by joining together to change the system that is causing the greatest crisis humanity has ever had to face.
Liverpool - Alan Milne
Hundreds joined the march and rally in Liverpool on Saturday as part of the global day of action against climate change.
The marches and rallies, a response to the evidence of the accelerating climate crisis, were a clear demonstration that concern about climate change is growing. Behind those taking action are millions who are angry and frustrated at the lack of urgency in global capitals and governmental response.
The march that started in Liverpool's Sefton Park made its way into the city centre and was inspired throughout the day by speeches from amongst others, YouthStrike4Climate, Merseyside BLM, the Campaign Against JLA Airport expansion, academics and trade unionists. Most impressive of all was the global solidarity shown to Liverpool through impassioned statements from comrades in Mozambique, the US and Brazil.
Our spirits were kept up, during what was a wet and miserable day, by the Liverpool Socialist Singers (pictured below), the Liverpool Ukulele Orchestra and lion dancing from the Hung Gar Kung Fu Club. The rally finale was by the fantastic Tayo Aluko who gave us a rendition of ‘It’s a Wonderful World’ with his own contemporary twist.
In addition to the demands of the global protest movement that reject current targets and plans for carbon reduction, the North West COP26 Coalition are calling a number of measures that will make a real difference to the environment and the quality of people’s lives in our region. These measures include significant rewilding, carbon accountability on freight at all sea and air ports, a fully integrated regional public transport system and major investment into local green jobs.
Whilst we all come away from events like Saturday full of solidarity and enthusiasm we cannot forget the influence of capitalism's vested interests and we must keep the pressure on.
‘We refuse to be complacent. Our message is one of resistance and hope’.
The time for action is now!
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