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25.09.14 The People’s Climate March – changing attitudes

25th Sep 2014

The UN Climate Summit is happening this week in New York. This is a meeting with a lot of
VIPs at it. The who’s who of international leaders (as well as Leonardo di Caprio) are gathering in New York to discuss the issues surrounding climate change and what we are going to do about it. It’s the first time that they are discussing it since Copenhagen 5 years ago where they didn’t manage to get a binding agreement and so stuck to voluntary pledges instead.

These talks, being run by Ban Ki Moon are meant to be a chance for governments, cities and businesses to show some ambition on tackling climate change. The summit has two goals:

  • To mobilise political will for a universal and meaningful climate agreement next year in Paris
  • To generate ambitious steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen resilience.

As well as world leaders, there has been a chance for industry and business leaders to attend.
The World Farmers Organisation, chaired by Peter Kendall will attend, as part of the Global Alliance of Climate Smart Agriculture. This Alliance aims to make agriculture, forestry and fisheries part of the solution to the negative impacts of climate change.

Normally this wouldn't make its way into an FCCT blog, unless the talks were concluding with some ground breaking new figures, pledges or statistics that applied to farmers and growers, but the thing that has made this somewhat different (and fits nicely into this month’s blog theme) is the marches that occurred last weekend before the start of the talks. On Sunday 21st September, 2,700 climate events happened around the world with campaigners taking to the streets
to demand action on climate change through the People’s Climate March.

Organisers of the event declared it an overriding success with the climate change profile being raised and over half a million people demonstrating, making it the largest climate change march in history. The march in New York topped 300,000 people and in London 40,000 people took part.

Some people’s opinions for attending in London are below:

“I’ve come along because climate change needs more attention. I’m hoping the numbers will be large enough to warrant some sort of attention”

“It’s the biggest problem we've got to face, but we don’t because we think its too big and its too far off. Its not far off now. You’ve just got to do whatever you can so it
goes up the political agenda. Its all our futures, our children’s futures.”

“The Peoples’ Climate March made it clear that while some may choose to retreat from the inevitability of change, many more are embracing that change with passion, creativity and an unstoppable force. As I marched along with 40,000 others, I felt we were marching towards something rather than away from it. We made history on Sunday, in towns and cities around the world.”(Rob Hopkins, Transition movement)

We fought apartheid, now climate change is our global enemy” (Desmond Tutu,
not at the London March but in the newspaper).

So will the march have any effect on the decisions coming out of the talks? Let’s wait and see (perhaps optimistically), and next year in Paris where targets may well be set. One thing is for certain, is that the climate change has moved higher up the agenda, and what we do now is crucial. Now is the time for all us to make a start and engage with the issues. There is
also an opportunity now to respond to changing public perceoptions and educate people about how farming and growing are central to resolving the issues surrounding sustainable profitable food production and safeguarding natural resources.

Some photos from marches around the globe

Photo credit - Philip Barnes

   Photo from Melbourne

Photo from Perth, Australia

Sources: RTCC Website, Peoples Climate March website, UN Climate Summit pages.