Photos: The People’s Climate March, London, September 21, 2014

21.9.14

See my photos of the People’s Climate March on Flickr here.

On September 21, 2014, all around the world, hundreds of thousands of people in 166 countries took part in over 2,800 events calling for urgent, coordinated action on climate change. The website for the New York City event — attended by an estimated 300,000 people — described it accurately as the “largest climate march in history.”

The trigger for the coordinated events around the world was the Climate Summit taking place at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Tuesday, where over 120 world leaders “will try to rally the political will for a new world-wide climate treaty by the end of 2015,” as the Wall Street Journal described it.

I attended the event in London, which involved around 40,000 people, a largely sunny day and a very friendly atmosphere, and took the photos available on Flickr. It was a powerful demonstration of widespread concern about the climate that is an important antidote to the cynical and well-funded climate change denial lobby, and the general indifference of politicians, who sometimes make positive noises about the environment, but are more generally in bed with the polluters — and, in addition, find themselves unable to tell the truth to their electorates: that we urgently need to make the environment a priority, and that doing so has to involve curbing our own destructive appetites.

The People’s Climate March was organised by the campaigning groups Avaaz and 350.org, and the London march also involved The Campaign against Climate ChangeAirport Watch, BP or Not BP, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Climate Coalition, Compass, Fire Brigades Union, Fuel Poverty Action, Grandparents for a Safe Earth, Greenpeace UK, One Million Climate Jobs, Operation Noah, Oxfam, People’s Assembly Against Austerity, Tearfund, Transport Salaried Staffs Association and WWF-UK.

Note: See the Guardian‘s report on events around the world here, and see here for an interview in the New Yorker with the journalist and environmental activist Bill McKibben, one of the main organisers of the march. Also see the Guardian review of Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate, and an interview with Klein here.

A link to the photos is also below:

Poster for the People's Climate March, London, September 21, 2014

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

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16 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Toia Tutta Jung wrote:

    Let’s hope it changes something, Andy. I’ve read an article about some behaviour experts being the people behind this march.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    I was glad to see 40,000 people in London, Toia, but in discussions I found myself talking about how it needed to be many, many more to have a chance of making a difference, and making reference to the 2,000,000 people who marched against the Iraq War in London in February 2003, and who made just one mistake – we went home at the end of the day. If we’d all stayed, that could have been our velvet revolution!

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Toia Tutta Jung wrote:

    That´s right, Andy.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    When you say you read about behaviour experts being the people behind the march, Toia, what do you mean by that? Were they trying to find some sort of techniques to get as many people involved as possible?

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Toia Tutta Jung wrote:

    Can I send you an article, Andy? If you take time to read it and tell me what you think.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, by all means, Toia. I’d be happy to look at it.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the link, Toia, to the following article on CounterPunch: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/19/how-the-peoples-climate-march-became-a-corporate-pr-campaign/
    So my understanding is that there’s no fundamental dishonesty about the aims of Avaaz and 350.org, which are genuine, but that organising and selling the message, and raising money to do so, can lead to something that looks corrupted.
    With 350.org, I have no doubt about how genuine Bill McKibben is. I read his powerful and apocalyptic book “the End of Nature” in 1989 and it was a real eye-opener and a cry for action.
    I also think his campaigning, against the Keystone XL pipeline, for example, has demonstrated the importance of creating protest movements that are as big as possible.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Toia Tutta Jung wrote:

    I’m really sceptical when it comes to these big movements, Andy. I think they are architected so we believe that there’s some kind of response to this tragic climate problem. But at the same time I think we all should start doing whatever we can to change our way of life. Big money behind this People’s march for the Climate, and money has its own language.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    The money might be coming from the people, Toia, rather than being corporate – as the CounterPunch article mentions Avaaz raising millions of dollars as a result of an email. So in one way, I don’t want to sound ungrateful about people donating to support groups like Avaaz, or even particularly to criticise Avaaz and 350.org for trying to make the appeal of the People’s Climate March as wide as possible. That said, however, I have to ask, the day after the march, what have we achieved? Hence my point about the 2003 protests against the Iraq War – the mistake we made was going home, If we really want to effect change, perhaps we need to start thinking again about how one of the things the Occupy movement did was to get away from the idea of turning up for a protest and then going home again; in other words, the need to occupy our cities and not go home.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks to everyone who has liked and shared this. The day after, however, I do have to ask: what now? New Yorkers had the right idea, I think, with “Flood Wall Street” today, an occupation that was much edgier that yesterday’s event: http://floodwallstreet.net/media/
    I think the same focus on the City/Canary Wharf should have happened here in London as well. “Flood Wall Street”: a good, provocative name. “Flood the City” sounds good too.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Toia Tutta Jung wrote, in response to 9, above:

    Exactly, Andy, that´s where the knowledge about human behaviour fits in- nothing is achieved, nothing has changed, but people get the feeling that they are making a difference.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    I don’t think they’re that cynical, Toia, but I think that the more effort is put into creating a massive global protest, the blander the result is. For a show of intent galvanizing hundreds of thousands of people, that may be OK as a start, but I think there should have been much more education involved – and some very specific aims, both for the UN Summit and beyond.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Toia Tutta Jung wrote:

    Time will tell how good we were dealing with these vital questions, Andy.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    I think we’re collectively very poor at dealing with it, Toia. Even when politicians genuinely see a reason to care about the environment, they’re too cowardly to say to the electorate that we need to change the way we behave (in part, it must be said, because the majority of the population don’t want to know). And most of the time, to be honest, politicians aren’t on board – they’re sucking up to the fossil fuel lobby, and being wooed by the pro-nuclear camp.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Toia Tutta Jung wrote:

    We need a complete mindshift towards a new consciousness and we need it now.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I think that’s the bottom line, Toia. Unfortunately, what we’ve had instead, over the last 35 years, is a dumbing down and depoliticization of people by governments on behalf of the banks and corporations, facilitated in particular by advertisers and parts of the media.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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