by New Worker correspondent
THERE were massive climate change marches in cities all around the world last Sunday and the one in London was so big it took around an-hour-and-a-half, marching 10 to 15 abreast, to pass under Blackfriars Bridge as it passed from the embankment at Temple towards Westminster.
It was a very colourful march, with hundreds wearing elaborate animal costumes and many children involved, along with many bands and drummers all to deliver the vital message that our society has to make urgent drastic changes to the way we use energy to avoid catastrophic climate change that could devastate life on the planet.
And that message was aimed at a United Nations summit on climate change scheduled to begin on Tuesday. More than 120 world leaders including David Cameron and US president Barack Obama are expected to attend.
Many marchers condemned David Cameron and the Con-Dem Coalition for abandoning policies to limit carbon emissions and encouraging increasing use of fossil fuels through fracking, which is dangerous to the environment in so many ways.
Celebrities including actress Emma Thompson, musician Peter Gabriel and designer and activist Vivienne Westwood joined the massive march through Westminster calling on politicians to tackle global warming.
The march and rally was one of 2,000 events taking place in 150 countries around the world ahead of the UN climate summit next week.
And estimated 300,000 people came out to protest on the streets of New York, where the summit is being held, for the People's Climate March.
The UN summit has been convened by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a bid to drive action and momentum towards talks in Paris in 2015, where it is hoped a new global climate treaty can be agreed.
In London campaigners carrying banners that said "renewables rock", and "for the love of polar bears and rhinos" marched through the streets, chanting "What do we want? Clean energy. When do we want it? Now."
Speaking at the start of the march, actor Emma Thompson said: "This is important for every single person on the planet, which is why it has to be the greatest grass roots movement of all time."
She said that fossil fuels had been a good idea at the time – like tobacco – but now it was clear they were killing people.
"Climate change has been a bit like everybody playing a deadly game of grandmother's footsteps for the last 20 years, now this climate change grandmother has turned around and started running towards us.
"It's touch and go whether we're going to survive what we've done."
She had just returned from a trip to the Arctic where, she said: "The effects of the melting ice are written so clearly on the landscape.”
She added that everyone has to act on cutting emissions. But she said: "An international climate deal is of absolutely vital importance. It must be put into law. It can't be a non-binding agreement. Those agreements have fallen to pulp in our hands over the last 20 years."
She criticised David Cameron for encouraging oil, gas and coal, and said the politics of fighting climate change were "profound, and deep and dirty".
She added: "This is the battle of our lives. We're fighting for our children."
Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven, who was also on the march, said scientists were clear about the dangers of climate change, and most world leaders understood the science, but were failing to respond to what needed to happen.
He said events were taking place the same day from Papua New Guinea and Australia to the march in New York.
"That is really what we need - global pressure coming from below on our political leaders."
Leo Hickman, chief climate change adviser for conservation charity WWF-UK, said that while the risks of climate change had been well known for a decade or more, the opportunities associated with tackling the problem were emerging.
Recent research has shown that innovative technology and new investment in cities, energy and agriculture could cut emissions at the same time as saving money, boosting growth and improving health.
"We shouldn't be scared of decarbonising; it isn't going to wreck our economy. For the UK economy there's some really clear opportunities and co-benefits of decarbonising. We should grasp this moment rather than be scared of it," he said.
Campaign groups including Avaaz, Greenpeace UK, Christian Aid and Friends of the Earth took part in the march in London, while other events were taking place in cities around Britain, including Manchester, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Stroud and Dudley.
Friends of the Earth's policy and campaigns director Craig Bennett said: "This is a global call for action that mustn't be ignored.”