Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Nelson Mandela calls for 'Green New Deal Now'.

(Well, I bet he would if he'd been there...)

Saturday saw the 2008 National Climate March, timed to coincide with the international talks taking place in Poznan in Poland.

The march began at Grovesner Square (home to the US Embassy), a familiar landmark for the climate protest movement. In retrospect, the chosen starting point seems less apt than for previous years, done more for the sake of tradition than with any real vitriol. Perhaps I put unrealistic faith in the President elect, but, to me, a more fitting starting point would have been round the corner at the home of surprising villain Canada, who, despite ratifying the Kyoto treaty in 2002, have since declared no intention of adhering to it.

US-regime change aside, the march began like any other, with an excited babble of chatter and drums, the scent of delicious (if a little vegan) Hare Krishna food and a sea of placards filling the square.

Every year you'll see a couple of slogans that dominate the sea. This year's key one (as you can see from Mr Mandela) called for a Green New Deal. The others ranged from the popular 'No Airport Expansion' and 'Cross Party Policies' to the slightly misplaced 'Earthquakes are Inevitable, War is Preventable'.

The procession itself ran its pleasant and uneventful course, walking down streets that you only ever seem to visit when packed in a crowd, occasionally belting out loosely-rhyming chants (journeys surprisingly similar to those taken down the Seven Sisters road...). It was nice to see the full spectrum of support presented by the variety of different participants and their flags, though there were a select few that sparked the tempting desire to brandish a fully roasted free-range chicken at the top of my ChiC flag. I know it'd have made an awful mess of my pride and joy, but it would have also felt good to reassure the road-side spectators that, although I admit I'm already so uncomfortably far down the road to hippydom to have begun cutting back on my meat consumption, not all of us have signed up to the militant calls for immediate and universal veganism.

The march ended at the uncontroversially-relevant Parliament Square and the speeches began. Showing a slight lack of respect, a few of us skipped the speakers we'd heard before and went off in search of tea (me forgetting that we'd now returned to the land of the 'general public', where people are less forgiving when you hit them over the head with a flagpole). We returned to Parliament Square and ended our marching protest with the age-old tradition of tea and cake, whilst chatting to the like-minded folk around us.

All in all, it was an affable, if rather un-revolutionary day. Despite its role as a reassuring symbol to the wider environmental movement, it did leave me wondering what impact it had really had, and whether I wished I'd gone to Stansted instead. Oh well, bring on January's Climate Rush.

1 comment:

Tim said...

But it was a lovely opportunity for a walk, great company, a bit of networking and tea and cake in the park..

Demo s can get like that. But they're still important for bringing people in in easy ways. It was also great to hear calls for civil disbedience from Caroline Lucas and others on the stage.

I agree with the climate rush comment though