THERE was controversy at the start of the giant Climate Change protest march in Park Lane, London on Sunday 29th November as a large group with banners laying the blame for global warming squarely on western imperialism tried to place itself at the head of the march.
But their strong political message was not the one that the middle class organisers of the march wanted there.
The group, which calls itself The Wretched of the Earth, represents the Global South. In their own words: “The Global South is the main frontline of the uphill battle against climate change. From Colombia to Côte d'Ivoire, from the Philippines to Pakistan, people are already facing the furious impacts of environmental devastation through floods, droughts, landslides, and typhoons.
“Diverse forms of extractivism, carried out under the colonial logic of ‘western development’, are wrecking communities and fuelling the planetary crisis through prolonged social and environmental conflict.
“All our struggles for justice around the world – for equality, food security, economic fairness, human rights, decent work, environmental protection and more – are interconnected and tied up in the struggle against runaway climate change.
“For many of our communities, this is a question of survival. The climate talks in Paris are about who lives and who dies, about whose lives matter and whose are disposable.
“So, on the 29th we will be marching for life. We will be marching to demand justice for impacted communities. We will be marching to decry the impending genocide. We will be marching to demand ‘system change, not climate change’.
“We will be marching to denounce the UK government and British extractive companies, whose policies plunder and destroy lives. We will be marching in solidarity with refugees around the world, fleeing the colliding horrors of imperial war, persecution, chronic poverty and climate change.
“Together, we are more powerful than they could possibly imagine. Whatever happens in Paris, we can, and we will, build the future from here. A more just, more equitable and better world for us all.”
Eventually the group did not head the march but nevertheless its message had an impact.
The march was one of 25,000 in different cities around the world, all trying to send a message to the United Nations summit on climate change in Paris this week.
Organisers of the London march said about 50,000 people were on the route from Hyde Park to Whitehall, ending with a rally at Millbank.
The Paris conference, known as COP21, started on Monday and is trying to craft a long-term deal to limit carbon emissions.
The gathering of 147 heads of state and government is set to be far bigger than the 115 or so who came to Copenhagen in 2009, the last time the world came close to agreeing a long-term deal on climate change.