On Sunday 29th November 2015, hundreds of Southampton residents joined with hundreds of thousands of people across the globe to show their support for climate action. The Southampton People’s Climate Demonstration took place in Guildhall Square with inspiring speeches, rousing music, street theatre and stalls.
Many thanks to the amazing Jenny Barnes who organised the event! Its aim was to ‘demonstrate that we want clean energy in order to have a stable climate and economy, and have clean air to breathe’. She opened the gathering by reminding us of the importance of campaigning for action on climate change, especially in the run up to the 21st UN conference on climate change (COP21).
“Over the next fortnight, we need the government to agree to a legally binding commitment to keep global warming below the crucial 2 degrees. Today, we stand in solidarity with millions of others around the world to say we want a cleaner, greener, healthier world, in which developing countries can pull themselves out of poverty using clean energy…It has been estimated that we have 17 years before we hit 2 degrees. We can’t wait until the deadline and then turn everything off.“
Three other speakers, representing different elements of our community, talked about their thoughts on climate action. First off, Helen Field, a Southampton resident, took up the topic of clean energy by encouraging us to embrace solar power.
Then Rebecca Kinge, of Dangerous Ideas, talked about activity happening right here, right now within the Southampton community.
“There are so many wonderful people and community organisations in our city, making changes and bringing people together around a more ecological approach. The Art House, Curb Junk Food Kitchen, Transition Southampton, Western Docks Consultation Forum campaigning for clean air, Aldermoor Community Farm, Woodcraft Folk, Rice Up, Sustrans, bike projects …. the list goes on.”
She referred to two important meetings: the Climate Coalition’s event in Westminster in June when Southampton people joined thousands of others to met MPs to lobby for a low carbon future; and Friday’s Southampton Climate Change Conversations gathering at the University of Southampton.
“We need a low carbon city and we need to see every business and institution in the city taking on this challenge.”
Rebecca called for us to connect with each other and be part of this movement for change through the Southampton Climate Change Conversations partnership.
The final speaker was James Dyke from the University of Southampton who asked us to
“Imagine living in a world where we consider the wellbeing of everyone alive now and those that will come after us. Imagine living in a city that plays an active part in tackling climate change and also becomes a better place to live. A place that you love. A place you are proud of. Why can’t we come together and transform the city? We can create meaningful change. Together we can become a force that can overcome. Do you want to make this change? Do you believe we can make this change?“
A lovely photo of everyone at the demo will be submitted to the UN conference along with images from other marches and climate events from around the world. The Southampton protesters also contributed their voices to a worldwide song about climate change – Sing for the Climate:
We need to wake up/ We need to wise up/ We need to open our eyes/ And do it now now now/ We need to build a better future/ And we need to start right now
This was led by Southampton Red Notes (their first public performance!) who share a love of singing, a passion for equality, fairness and justice.
We were also treated to a fantastic performance by the Southampton Ukelele Jam with lots of crowd participation and dancing around!
Thanks to everyone who helped to organise and support this amazing event!
Update: The demonstration featured in the Daily Echo on Monday 30th November with a photo of some of us.
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