Students, workers, companies, activists and more united across timezones and cultures to take part in the largest climate protest in history. Not all staff could join the strike, but they were there in spirit as they went about their work supplying clean, green, electricity, powered by wind and water.
Across the UK, hundreds of thousands of impassioned people joined marches and rallies in more than 200 locations. From big cities like London, Manchester and Newcastle, which drew crowds of up to 100,000 people, to small towns and villages such as Fort William, Rhyl and Laugharne which saw 6 local villagers gather to join the global movement.
Thrive team members joined other Bristol businesses at our local Bristol march which saw a speech by Natalie Bennett of the Green Party, protestors staging a symbolic ‘die in’ and a youth poetry reading. Another member of the team, who took strike action herself from work, attended the rally outside Westminster in London.
London 20 September 2019
As people gathered from 11am, quickly filling up the streets and gardens surrounding the Houses of Parliament, the sun shone down illuminating the masses of home-made signs and radiant smiles of young and old alike. Small groups of primary school children brought by teachers stayed on the edges of the rally taking part in games and activities, whilst larger groups of teenagers stood on bins and walls holding their placards and chanting climate demands. Multi-faith groups took part in group prayer and music was playing everywhere.
The event was one of overwhelming unity, hope and a collective demand for action. Many people attending had been watching the first marches spread across Australia and the South Pacific on social media and you could not escape the feeling of connection with so many others, a little bit like when we greet the New Year around the world.
Climate justice was the theme of the day with a range of speakers from across the UK and the world discussing what it means to them and how we achieve it together. Strong key themes that came from many of the speakers was the key role racial justice and migrant justice play in achieving climate justice. Climate change disproportionately affects the global south1 and these communities. The worst effects of climate change will lead to mass migration as vast areas of the globe become uninhabitable2. Some of the most powerful of the speakers were two school children from Malawi. They came to tell 100,000 Londoners what climate change is doing to their country, how droughts, food shortages and extreme weather are affecting their communities. They also came to tell us that we are part of the problem. These two incredibly brave and inspirational young people came to ask for our help, because we have the power and the resources to change.
Other speakers included Owen Jones, The Guardian columnist and author, Caroline Lucas, Leader of the Green Party, and Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party. Both party leaders came to discuss what their plans were for addressing the climate crisis. They both reiterated the necessity of urgent action following major global events such as the fire in the Amazon rainforest and the hurricane which left devastation in the Bahamas. They also, like many of the day’s speakers, drew attention back to those suffering most from the effects of climate change. Caroline Lucas described climate change as “the biggest social justice issue of our time”. However, these were also messages of hope, thanking those who had joined the movement for showing true climate leadership, for keeping this issue at the top of the political agenda and promising that together, as one movement across the world, we will succeed.
1 - UN report - Climate Change and Social Inequality (https://www.un.org/esa/desa/papers/2017/wp152_2017.pdf)
2 - International Organization for Migration (IOM) – Migration and Climate Change (https://www.ipcc.ch/apps/njlite/srex/njlite_download.php?id=5866)