National Climate March
Global Day of Action on December 1st 2012
Nostalgia, as they say, is not what it was. The irony is that the numbers marching each year go in inverse proportion to the threat. In a year of record Arctic sea ice melting (threatening more chaotic weather for Europe and North America) only a few hundred turned out. And that was on a nice fresh day, ideal for a guided walk through central London! Anyway, the Operation Noah and Christian Ecology Link contingent walked (suitably chaotically) behind their banners held high aloft.
The event started with people assembling in Grosvenor Square, where die-hards had their stalls and many more placards than there were hands. The Climate Coalition of course, Socialist Workers inevitably (Capitalism creates Climate Chaos? The old Soviet Union and Communist China don't do too badly), The Green Party stoically, The Brent Campaign against Climate Chaos colourfully, oh, and Raised Voices, with charming, refined but cutting parodies of some old favourite songs – far more effective than those harsh and unintelligible megaphones. Probably in the same league as 'Abide with me' on the Titanic. So who'd join me with a Christian stall in 2013 – majoring on the suffering of poor communities, alongside those who (quite rightly) do not want 'fracking' wells in their back-yard?
Then we built the Grosvenor Square Keystone pipe-line to carry tar-sands oil from the Canadian Embassy to the American Embassy – and heard some stirring stories of passive resistance from those whose land would be crossed by the real pipe-line. I wonder what the Governor-elect of the Bank of England thinks of that one? Perhaps it is as well that the Common Lectionary has moved on to Luke, for whom burning anger at injustice requires service and sacrifice – or I might be tempted by the SWP and revolution.
The walk itself was the model of decorum. Well, we were nearly outnumbered by the police and well outnumbered by the cameras, including what looked like a documentary team from Japan – perhaps intrigued by Occidental traditions? The police have got this down to a fine art: fixing tapes just ahead and removing them a few minutes later after the cohort has passed.
I think London got the message that we don't like 'fracking' for gas – at least it was a message that the marchers could unite on – although the more subtle message ('because it will add to global warming') was perhaps not so clear. I heard ne'er a mention about COP18 in Doha, which speaks volumes about the slow progress towards an international agreement to reduce and replace greenhouse gas emissions. The best reception was on the train home from Manchester to Buxton, with people really interested in the placards I was still carrying!
Given the crisis so clearly articulated by Lord Stern and other respected figures, it stretches credulity that world leaders are supposed to be working towards an agreement in distant 2015 to be implemented in even more distant 2020. The point, however, is not that we should hope for a massive popular turnout in 2015 but that what will count is our sustained effort to protect and serve God's wonderful Creation throughout 2013 and 2014.
Charles Jolly. Church and Society Officer