Environment

Thousands march to demand climate justice in London and around the world

The climate justice protest in London brought people together to demand change from the government.

The demonstration organised by Climate Justice Coalition saw protesters take to the streets to demand change. Image: Rose Morelli/Big Issue

Thousands of protestors took to the streets of London today as part of a series of nationwide demonstrations, to demand faster action on climate change from the government. 

Organised by the Climate Justice Coalition (CJC), protestors took aim at the international Cop27 Climate summit taking place in Egypt, claiming that efforts from world leaders to halt a climate catastrophe aren’t going far enough. 

“I’m here today because climate protestors here and across the world are being imprisoned when global carbon emissions are at an all time high,” said Amelia, an Extinction Rebellion member and media representative.

Climate protests have been a regular feature of 2022 in the UK as campaigners take direct action to put environmental concerns on the political agenda, often resulting in arrests. Other demonstrations have also drawn attention to high heating costs at home, with the CJC accusing the government of allowing energy companies to accrue record-breaking profits while “trashing nature” and “cutting wages”.

Starting with a demonstration outside the head office of oil giant Shell, the group marched to Trafalgar Square for a rally. 

“Governments in our global north won’t take meaningful action, and it disproportionately affects those in the global south,” continued Amelila. “Instead of doing something, they just imprison those who want to catalyse real climate action.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was among several major world leaders to attend the Cop27 Climate summit this year, held in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh. Speaking at the conference on Monday, Sunak said it was “morally right” for Britain to honour its climate change commitments to the tune of £11.6bn Critics, including Labour leader Keir Starmer described his speech as “vacuous” and “unambitious”.

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“I think it’s very likely I’ll have to come back and protest Cop28… and 29, and 30,” said Paul, a marcher and supporter of climate justice. “It’s a dereliction of duty for me to not be here channeling my dissent. My one ray of hope is the Labour Party’s commitment to only producing clean energy by 2030, but they need to hurry up and get in power to achieve that.”

Paul said his daughter was recently arrested at a climate protest. Image: Rose Morelli/Big Issue

“Just last week my daughter was arrested in the Just Stop Oil protests,” he continued, pointing to his Just Stop Oil sticker. “It was really upsetting. She never wanted to distress or disturb anyone, but she felt compelled to protest and get this serious issue into the public eye. Of course I worry about her, but I’m so proud of her still.”

Campaign groups including Just Stop Oil have been criticised for their disruptive tactics, blocking the M25 and other major roads and throwing soup and paint over buildings and artworks.

“Overall, I’m here today because I’m passionate about any opportunity to raise awareness on the climate situation,” Paul said. “It’s an absolute emergency which affects every single one of us and could kill millions.”

The protest  unified hundreds of groups in a desire to speak out on climate inaction. Before the demoonstration outside Shell, attendees gathered on Southbank to hold a vigil for Chris Kaba – an unarmed black rapper who was shot dead by police on October 4, sparking an inquest into the man’s death. 

Sara said issue;’s of climate and racial justice are interlinked. Image: Rose Morelli/Big Issue

“I’m really happy to see Chris Kaba connected to the climate movement like this,” said Sara of the Women of All Colour Global Strike organisation. “People of colour are all too often left out of the conversation, not only of anti-racism but defending life and the planet. There is a direct link.”

“Worldwide, the 1 per cent of wealthiest people are killing millions through starvation, climate devastation, war, greed and plunder,” she commented. “It’s clear to most people that we can’t go on with corporations depriving us of the life basics – we’re really at a make or break moment.

“Even though this is a climate change protest, we can see anti-racism in action here,” she continued. 

From day one of Cop27, delegates were demanding financial reparations from rich countries who have already benefited from industrialisation through fossil fuels to poorer countries who are feeling the effects of climate change most keenly.

The managing director of operations at the World Bank, Alex von Trotsenburg, told the Reuters news agency that his organisation was ready to increase financial support for poorer nations but needed the cash from rich countries to do it.

Former PM Boris Johnson responded directly to growing calls for climate recompense in his speech at Cop27, noting that Britain had “pumped an awful lot of carbon into the atmosphere”, but did not have the financial resources to compensate other countries. . 

Sunak admitted in his address to Cop27 that developing nations had been “unfairly burdened with the carbon debt of richer nations” but did not clarify Britain’s steps to address this.

“In terms of restitution, people in the global south are demanding resources for clean water and solar energy as recompense for what has been stolen,” Sara said. “The wealth of the global north comes from theft and colonialism. The entire globe needs to support this recompense for climate justice.”

The Big Issue’s Big Future campaign is calling for a better future, including decent homes for all, an end to the low-wage economy and green jobs for a sustainable future. Sign the open letter here to demand better.

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