Kyoto Climate March

Image
Photo copyright Andrew Or

Image
Photo Andrew Fuller

The Kyoto Climate March was in the news well before it started, billed as part of a wave of international demonstrations around the world (see here) - something which we had been working to create. So we had already succeeded in our goal of amplifying the significance of the coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol (happening the following Wednesday 16th February) and emphasising the isolation of the US - as almost the only country not prepared to do its bit to avert a global catastrophe - even before the demo had started.

The demo kicked off with a band of cyclists, 30 or 40 strong, gathering at the Thames Barrier, symbolic of the threat from climate change to London, itself. The Barrier is being used more and more often as every year passes and may have to be rebuilt bigger in 20 or 30 years. Cyclists posed for photos and fixed flags to their bikes before setting off along the Thames, flags streaming in a colourful array, towards Lincoln's Inn Fields where the march proper was soon to start.

In Lincoln's Inn Fields a small industry was underway, as people assembled for the march, fixing flags to bamboo poles and handing them around. In the end we had all 141 of our national flags, representing all the current signatories to the Kyoto Protocol, which we were going to take to the US embassy to emphasise their isolation on this crucial issue for the world.

Finally, with all 141 flags waiving, and the samba band striking up, we set off. Out in front was our globe-in-a-greenhouse, the 'Statue of taking Liberties' and 'Uncle-Sam-the-Grim-Reaper' waving a flag with a burning globe. Behind, there streamed a great long colurful throng, livened up by the samba band, the famous Rinky Dink bicycle sound machine, and Tony and Jenny's 'Soapbox' bicycle sound machine, too. There was a brief pause at the ExxonMobil offices as Lucy Wills seized the meagaphone to give them a torrent of well deserved abuse, for their role in backing the Bush regime and waging a cynical war of disinformation on climate change. Next was the turn of the Australian embassy: Australia is the only major developed country not to have ratified Kyoto apart from the US. Here 'John Howard' put in a brief appearance along with an 'Ozzy Reaper of Doom', as the flag-holders clustered in front of the embassy doors for photos. In fact our demo made quite an impact on the Ozzy media: we evidently struck quite a sensitive nerve!

Soon we were off again, streaming down the Strand and into Trafalgar square, while dazed shoppers and tourists looked on: in fact many responded favourably to leaflets, while some actually joined the march. The colourful, noisy, long snake of protesters then wound it way into Piccadily Circus and on into Mayfair. with chanting of
"You can put your head in the sand,
Or join the march and make a stand" and the like.

Finally reaching the US embassy, there was an attempt to get all the flags together for photos and then the usual confusion as conflicting instructions were received about where to assemble for speeches. At last something was sorted out and Phil Thornhill, Campaign Coordinator, had the microphone off the Rinky Dink, to expound on the irresponsible iniquity of the US at this moment of unprecedented global crisis. Next came Caroline Lucas, Green Party MEP, speaking with her usual cogency, followed by Norman Baker MP, Lib-Dem shadow environment Minister, highlighting the danger of Tony Blair coming away with a useless 'paper' agreement from Bush on climate. Inbetween Phil Thornhill pointed to our next big opportunity to get a big mobilisation on climate (apart from the G8), namely the 'MOP' climate talks this November/December, which he asked everyone to get focussed on, well in advance. Then it was the turn of Tony Juniper, Director of Friends of the Earth, followed by Muzammal Hussain from the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences. At that point the heavens tipped down and things rapidly broke up but we were lucky it had waited untill all essential business had been successfully concluded. Some of us continued the festivities in the Barley Mow pub, nearby, where we were entertained by the 'Eco-Worriers'.

Altogether it had been a terrific and spectacular demo, which succeeded in its aim of amplifying the significance of the coming into force of the Protocol and highlighting the irresponsible and immoral obduracy of the US in doing nothing to prevent a global catatstrophe that it has played (and continues to play) such a large role in creating. Many people felt they had at last had an opportunity to effectively express their concern over the the huge threat to our Future posed by the destabilisation of global climate - and while there is always some dissapointment that numbers on the march do not remotely match up to the seriousness of the issue, nevertheless we have laid a firm basis for bigger things to come! Roll on December!

Image
Photo Andrew Fuller

Image
Photo Andrew Fuller

Image
Photo copyright Andrew Or

Image
Photo copyright Andrew Or

Image
Photo Andrew Fuller

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