LONDON - More than 50,000 people gathered in London last Saturday for what has been called the “greatest demonstration for climate change in the U.K.” Protestors of all ages and walks of life came together for a series of events known as The Wave, culminating in a three-hour march through the streets of London to encircle the Houses of Parliament.
The message from protestors was that the world will be watching this week as leaders meet in Copenhagen to address the climate change crisis at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or “COP15.”
The Wave officially began at 9 a.m. with bike rides to the protest organized by the London Cycling Campaign. Religious services at the West London Synagogue and Methodist Central Hall Westminster that morning led up to the event as a group of demonstrators gathered at Speaker’s corner in Hyde Park for the Climate Emergency Rally. The rally featured several speakers, including Simon Hughes, a member of the British Parliament, who spoke with a sense of urgency to the crowd gathered in the park.
“The economic crisis and climate crisis are interlinked,” Hughes said. “We need to change the way we live our lives.”
Meanwhile, in Grosvenor Square, protestors assembled to hear speakers from worldwide organizations, including Oxfam and Christian Aid, committed to fighting climate change. Stressing the effects of climate change on individuals in developing countries, Oxfam speaker Barbara Stocking said, “For poor people, climate change is not something in the future.”
Encouraged by the speakers and led by groups beating on drums, the march toward Parliament began at 1 p.m. Many people participating in the march carried placards and banners, demanding carbon cuts and an end to coal usage. As the swarms of protestors made their way through the busy streets, their numbers seemed to grow as people arriving from all over the United Kingdom joined in.
The massive march ended at 3 p.m. as protestors dressed in blue reached Parliament, chanting and waving to catch the attention of politicians. Following the march, Prime Minister Gordon Brown met with 24 members of The Wave privately to discuss their demands for action in Copenhagen.
In many ways, the event was considered to be a great success, especially in conjunction with similar events occurring all over Europe to put pressure on politicians for action in Copenhagen. On the other hand, some believe that the real success of such actions will be unknown until the conclusion of the Copenhagen summit on Dec. 18. Only time will tell whether or not world leaders will succeed in reaching any sort of binding agreement to address the climate crisis.