Worldwide protests against climate change

Olivia Arigho Stiles reports on the People’s Climate March.


Around 30,000 people marched from Temple to the Houses of Parliament in London yesterday on the People’s Climate March. Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and actor Emma Thompson addressed the assembled crowds. Thompson asserted the need for boycotts as a mechanism of protest against polluting businesses.

The march was part of a worldwide series of demonstrations ahead of the UN summit on climate change in New York on Tuesday, and saw over 2,500 coordinated events in more than 150 countries. A stunning 400,000 marched in New York, where U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Al Gore were in attendance.


The run-up to the march had show-cased a slick publicity campaign, with ubiquitous advertisements on New York public transportation crowd funded by Avaaz, one of the groups which helped organise the march.

The march demonstrates the strength in building broad-based populist movements. The Green Party, Friends of the Earth and Fossil Free had a strong presence while the relative scarcity of leftist groups (aside from Left Unity) and trade unions perhaps suggests a need to relocate environmental politics within revolutionary political movements. One anonymous marcher who had asked for an RS21 leaflet expressed his support for a low carbon economy but thought this was possible through a reform of business, rather than structural economic change.

10708743_10152777117679468_548010009260467236_oJonathan Neale, author of Stop Global Warming: Change the World, argued ‘This is a turning point. The march in New York was at least 310,000 people, the largest climate protest in world history. For the last five years, since Copenhagen, the climate movement has been down. Now we’re back, and back as never before. We have another national march on March 7th in London, and months to build it – we want it bigger than this one. And then we want global action at the time of the Paris climate talks in December 2015, with university occupations all round the world. It’s possible, and maybe, just maybe, we can actually stop climate chaos.’

Ultimately, the size and nature of the march indicates the broad populist desire to tackle climate change on a global scale. It also highlights the need for green issues to urgently shift from the margins to the centre of revolutionary theory and praxis, and also the potential in infusing climate change campaigns with a revolutionary thrust.


  1. One of the things that stuck with me on the day was realising just how many climate/green groups there are. You obviously had the big charities and NGOs like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth but also loads of climate action groups: No Dash for Gas, Reclaim the Power, Divest Fossil Fuels amongst others. It was very white, lots of families but the sections I were on were overwhelmingly young.

    As the report says, the Greens and Left Unity were the only political groups I saw which I think says more about the left being small rather than not turning up. For me the variety, creativity and the coalition of young people/older generation were strengths – the weakness was a lack of a *systemic criticism/alternative to climate chaos*. There I guess lies the opening but for us (as part of the radical left), what is the political contribution which we enter the movement with? Is it Climate Jobs, or should it be something far more anti-systemic? I think the Climate Jobs argument should be the focus within unions, but not sure that should be the main argument we make within the climate movement.

    I think this is something to be explored maybe!


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