by Renee Sams
THE FIRST world-wide day of action to put pressure on the international climate change negotiating summit taking place in Montreal, the most important since the Kyoto Protocols eight years ago, saw demonstrations taking place in 30 countries last week-end.
In London around 10,000 people marched from Lincoln’s Inn Fields to the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square with banners from UNISON, the NUJ Magazine Branch, Green Party, Respect and CND, and the demonstration was enlivened by the group of drummers from Globalise Resistance.
The march was organised by the Campaign for Climate Change and supported by the Green Party, People and Planet, Green peace, Friends of the Earth, and the Christian Ecology Link.
Many demonstrators carried placards calling Blair and Bush “climate criminals” and the march took a short diversion to deliver a letter calling on Prime Minister Blair, who put climate change a top priority at the Gleneagles Summit, to reaffirm his commitment to a new international agreement treaty with legally binding targets.
It also called for more to be done to cut pollution from carbon dioxide emissions in this country which have risen in this country since 1997 although the in its election pledges the government promised to cut them by 20 per cent by 2010
Friends of the Earth Nick Rau, energy campaigner said, “If the UK is serious about leadership on climate change then our Government needs to take action at home. It is not too late.”
In Montreal there was a big demonstration and five environmental groups delivered a petition signed by 600,000 Americans to the US Consulate calling on the Bush administration to take action to slow global warming.
Supporting the action was a delegation from the Inuit people from the Arctic Circle where the ice and permafrost is already melting and destroying the homes and livelihoods of whole communities.
Also joining in the worldwide protest were the people of New Orleans suffering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina held a Stop the Global Warming Party. This marks a major change in the United States where the number of people telling the opinion polls that they now believe that something must be done immediately to avert the threat.
There is now a broad agreement among scientists that the greenhouse gases will have to be reduced by some 80 per cent by 2050 if there is to be any hope of preventing climate change escalating out of control.
But Stavros Dimas, the EU environmental commission admitted that little will be achieved in Montreal but they hope that they will be able “to get an agreement to start negotiations”. Margaret Beckett, Secretary of Sate for the Environment was even less helpful only hoping that, “we can move forward instead of setting some arbitrary goal that cannot possible be achieved.”
In the developing countries they are already doing all they can to cut domestic pollution and develop renewable energy and are prepared to “play their part” in efforts to prevent an environmental catastrophe.
But the largest problem is still the White House, the biggest producers of polluting gases where President Bush, despite the shock of Hurricane Katrina is still adamant and refusing to join the other countries of the world in overcoming what is fast becoming the most urgent issue of saving the planet.