Solidarity with people in the global south was the big theme on the school students’ huge, sprawling demonstration against climate change in London today.
The message from the organisers, the UK Student Climate Network, was unequivocal: the damage done by global warming is not only something to be scared of in their own future, but is hitting millions of people in poor countries right now.
The demonstration was more like a rock concert, filling Millbank and spilling into Victoria Tower gardens next to parliament. A breakaway group of 200 or so staged a sit-down protest in Whitehall. The London event was part of a gigantic global protest in which millions participated. (See here and in all the news outlets.)
A constant stream of school students, carrying witty, home-crafted posters, joined in. I saw solidarity delegations of teachers, health workers, civil servants, art workers and plenty of other adult supporters.
Kamran from Global Justice Now told the crowd that the main cause of climate change is “not population, not unethical consumption: it’s the one per cent who loot resources from the global south”.
This exploitation of human beings by each other is “inseparable” from the exploitation of the planet, he added.
Kamran said that while sometimes he feels fearful for the future, he can also imagine a world in which, instead of dystopia, “energy is clean, benefits are evenly distributed and life is good”.
Anna Taylor of UKSCN said she is “sick of living in a system created by white capitalist men who try to satiate their addiction to power and control by exploiting people”.
Speakers from Brazil and Bolivia called for emergency measures to protect the Amazon.
Kieran, of the Wretched of the Earth, urged the crowd to support indigenous peoples battling to defend diversity, and to consider migrant justice and climate justice as one and the same.
“We are living at a time of great danger”, he said. But he asked those present to beware of “urgent solutions” proposed to climate change in the global north, which could “end up looking a lot like the colonialism and extractivism that we already face”.
The crowd took up a chant of “colonialism still – your climate profits kill”.
One of the loudest cheers greeted an announcement that demonstrators were on the streets of 40 towns and cities in Pakistan.
I don’t want to offer any trite assessments, but I would say that – with regard to understanding that climate justice and the fight against neocolonialism are one and the same – the school students are streets ahead of some of the adults.
Enjoy the posters. I did. GL, 20 September 2019.