On a brighter note, I was able to secure a prime position at the rally, right in front of the middle of the stage, and am able to bring to you these video clips of the speeches and some performances by the band Seize the Day.
Watch Seize the Day performing "What's going on": http://www.youtube.com/v/B_mfyTe7ff8
Watch Seize the Day performing "Bigger Better Brighter Bullshit Now": http://www.youtube.com/v/dgTaSVCL2Uw
Watch Seize the Day performing "Flying": http://www.youtube.com/v/RSz6TvW6Yvk
Jonathan Neil was the first speaker after Seize the day had played a few songs to welcome the marchers arriving in Grosvenor Square, and he had some numbers to share about the international aspect of this international day of action against climate change. There had been demonstrations in forty-five countries so far that day. Five thousand people in New Zealand, ten thousand in Taiwan, two thousand in Uganda and more in ten countries across Africa, plus Jordan, Gaza, Morocco, Lebanon and Dubai. More demonstrations in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Istanbul, Athens and Berlin. And that was before the demonstrations due to happen in Latin America and in thirty three cities in Canada.
Watch Jonathan Neil's speech: http://www.youtube.com/v/e7UG930n1cU
Labour MP and former environment minister Michael Meacher was next on the stage. He speculated that now that the US intelligence agencies had discovered that Iran was not actually making any nuclear weapons, maybe they would discover that mankind was causing climate change, and that the US, with less than 5% of the global population, is causing 25% of the damage. If we want the developing world to reduce their emissions, then we need to reduce our own emissions, massively and rapidly. Our record on renewable energy, he said, was pathetic. Compared to the rest of Europe, where between 15 and 50% of energy demand is being met by renewables, in this country the figure is only 4%, when we have more capacity for renewable energy than the rest of Europe put together and we’re hardly using any of it. He suggested that we need a massive programme of offshore wind energy, green tarrifs, and micro-generation in every home. On the government’s Climate Change Bill, he said that it was not enough to have a leisurely five yearly review of emissions, we need annual targets. There is not much use, he said, in having a Climate Change Bill, if in the next breath the government gives the go-ahead for a third runway at Heathrow airport, tripling of airport capacity by 2030, and annexing a million acres of seabed off Antarctica to secure the remaining oil supplies. In a hypothetical conversation with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, he said, “Gordon, if you’re so keen on renewable energy as you said in your speech three weeks ago, how come you’re undermining it by promoting nuclear energy?”
Watch Michael Meacher's speech: http://www.youtube.com/v/d47uN6HnZp0
Fraser Winterbottom, one of the Christian Aid campaigners who took part in the Cut the Carbon march in October, told the rally about the three most common questions he and his fellow marchers had been asked. Firstly, why are Christian Aid involved in a political campaign? The response was that in Kenya, where the rainfall can no longer be relied upon, where there used to be lots of subsistence farmers, now 80% of people rely on aid. In the Philippines and Bangladesh, people are losing their livelihoods, their families and their lives to floods. The second question, one which Gordon Brown made the mistake of asking, was “How are your feet?”, to which one of the marchers responded, “I’m not here at the Labour Party conference to talk about my feet. I’m here because my people are dying. Please do something about it.” The final question was, what can we do about it? We can lobby our politicians much harder, he said. We need a strong climate change bill, we need 80% cuts in emissions, we need strong international co-operation in Bali.
Watch Fraser Winterbottom's speech: http://www.youtube.com/v/fK0Mvjo7_4w
The third speaker was Sophie Stevens from the Camp for Climate Action, with so much to talk about and only two minutes to talk about it in. She wanted to talk about the inspirational time she had at the Climate Camp next to Heathrow airport, about taking direct action at BAA, about climate change profiteers, about the fossil fuel industry who are trying to steal the debate on climate change, about the hypocrisy of a government that has climate change talks in Bali and at the same time pushes ahead with a new wave of coal-fired power stations, and widening the M1, and building a third runway at Heathrow. Talking about plastic bags, she said, is deliberately missing the point. She wanted to talk about shutting things down when we have to, even if it means shareholders losing profits, about how climate change and capitalism are intertwined, both being born in the industrial revolution, and how we cannot tackle one without tackling the other. She wanted to talk about the madness of thinking that we can have economic growth forever when the planet is finite. She wanted to talk about marching not being enough, about what might have happened if, before the invasion of Iraq, instead of marching in line, if we’d all gone to Fairford air base and occupied the runway.
Watch Sophie Stevens' speech: http://www.youtube.com/v/p977ALqn1aY
Biofuels are a climate justice issue, a human justice issue and a social justice issue, said Andrew Boswell from Biofuel Watch. European policy on biofuels is driving deforestation, and if we do not stop them then everything else we do as a movement becomes irrelevant. Due to the expansion of biofuel production, he said, millions of hectares of forest in Indonesia and Malaysia are being destroyed to make way for biofuel plantations to feed European cars. The New Scientist magazine had reported the previous month that palm oil biodiesel produced in this way causes thirty six times as much carbon emission as ordinary fossil fuels.
Watch Andrew Boswell's speech: http://www.youtube.com/v/TjssFBMe41Y
Chris Huhne, Lib Dem environment spokesman and leadership contender, celebrated the fact that we have just seen the first democratically elected politician, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, defeated due to being a climate change denier. This, he said, is a warning to every politician who fails to see the future and who is mired in the past. If the Bush administration, being the only developed country which failed to send a top-level delegation to Bali, fails to rise to the occasion, then we should be talking to the successors, because there is more common sense in the little toe of each of the US presidential candidates than there is in George Bush’s whole anatomy. He said that there wasn’t a single word in Michael Meacher’s speech that he disagreed with, but that Michael was a lone voice in the Labour ranks and that Gordon Brown doesn’t have a green bone in his body. He listed a number of Gordon Brown’s failings; the third runway at Heathrow, failure to introduce tolls on road freight, letting big companies off the hook in reporting their emissions, and cuts in green taxes year in year out. He demanded that the Climate Change Bill include annual targets, that shipping and aviation be included in the targets, and that greenhouse gasses other than carbon dioxide be included in the targets.
Watch Chris Huhne's speech: http://www.youtube.com/v/ZzcDNyOnvG0
Seize the Day then played a few more numbers before Caroline Lucas took to the stage.
Watch Seize the Day performing "Burning Bush": http://www.youtube.com/v/o2MnCcBOGV8
Green Party MEP for the South East of England and honorary vice president of the Campaign Against Climate Change Caroline Lucas said that for the past few climate change marches we’d assembled outside the US embassy, because George Bush’s refusal to act on climate change made him guilty of crimes against humanity, but that she was thinking that we should start meeting outside Downing Street as well, because Gordon Brown is a willing accomplice to those crimes. She had a message for Gordon Brown, that he cannot continue expanding aviation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the same time. Climate change, she said, is a much greater threat than international terrorism, and that if the government spent a fraction of the money and commitment on tackling climate change than it spent on an illegal war in Iraq, then the world would be a much better place. Railing against the government’s support for EU policy on biofuels, she said that it is unacceptable to put the desire of car drivers in the West before the before food for people in the developing world. We want crops for food, not for fuel. We urgently need a mandatory policy framework, she said, but that must be based on science, not on what politicians say is politically feasible. She welcomed the Climate Change Bill, but said that we must challenge the targets in the bill, because as they stand they will lead to four to five degrees of warming rather than keeping below two degrees of warming. (Two degrees of warming is the tipping point identified by Mark Lynas in his book Six Degrees, at which positive feedback effects come into play, causing further warming and leading to runaway climate change.) She said that we cannot tackle climate change using the same paradigm of endless economic growth that caused the crisis in the first place, but that an alternative was available, the model of Contraction and Convergence developed by the Global Commons Institute. Caroline’s closing remark was not about changing light bulbs, or about public transport, although she acknowledged how important those are. It was about what we eat. Livestock farming, she said, accounted for as much greenhouse gas emissions as the world’s transport sector. She left us with the thought, which for me was the most memorable statement of the day, that a vegan in a 4x4 does less damage to the environment than a meat eater on a bicycle.
Watch Caroline Lucas' speech: http://www.youtube.com/v/7ga1nM51urE
Zak Goldsmith, environmental spokesman for the Tory party, had been due to speak at the rally but was unable to make it, sending a written statement instead. “We know the scale of the problem, and our leaders know the scale of the problem, which makes their inaction all the more unforgivable. The words are there, but it’s business as usual for government. They worry about floods, but continue building on flood plains. They worry about emissions, but want to treble airport capacity. Where’s the vision? Where’s the sense of urgency? Where are the incentives for green choices? Where are the disincentives for pollution? People want solutions, but we can’t do it on our own. We need leadership and the government has the tools. They can radically change the tax system so that environmental destruction becomes a financial liability. Government can raise the standards of our appliances at a stroke, leading to massive savings. It can cut out the multi-billion pound subsidy to the fossil fuel industry. And it can lead by example. The government spends 125 billion pounds each year on goods and services, enough buying power to flip markets. There’s no excuse for not buying the most sustainable goods and the most sustainable services. There’s one thing we can all do to make a difference. We can pile the pressure on our leaders. We can reward courage and we can punish inaction. If the ice caps don’t do it then the ballot box will.”
Watch Zak Goldsmith's statement being read: http://www.youtube.com/v/xSdaoo0i-yI
Tony Kearns, deputy general secretary of the Communication Workers’ Union, said he was sick and tired of the government and other governments pandering to the motor industry and building more motorways, pandering to the aviation industry and building more runways, pandering to the nuclear lobby and building more nuclear power stations and making the world a more unsafe place. He said he was sick and tired of the government spending money on illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, when the money should be spend on renewable energy and sustainable housing. “Are we going to continue this fight?” he asked the rally. “Are we going to tell the politicians and big business that this is not their planet?”, to a resounding “Yes”.
Watch Tony Kearns' speech: http://www.youtube.com/v/hHJTbexbXDg
Climate change is not a slow burn issue, said Tim Helweg-Larsen, of Zero Carbon Britain, a project of the Centre for Alternative Technology. The reinforcing feedbacks, like methane release, mean that climate change is much more like a time bomb, and the clock is ticking. It’s an emergency, and there are a number of ways in which we can respond to an emergency – panic, paralysis, or galvanising ourselves to plan our way out of the hole that we’ve been digging for ourselves. He said that in this planning, we need to know what we don’t want; open-cast coal mines, more Russian gas, nuclear power, SUVs or EasyJet flights. But we need to be just as clear about what we do want; zero carbon energy, zero carbon transport, to take us between out zero carbon homes and our zero carbon businesses. He quoted some of the findings of the Zero Carbon Britain report; that we could sustain our current standard of living with half the energy that we use at the moment, and that our renewable energy potential is enormous.
Watch Tim Helweg-Larsen's speech: http://www.youtube.com/v/bTkmbJO4BBM
Phil Thornhill, national co-ordinator of the Campaign Against Climate Change, said that each successive scientific report paints a darker picture. “The arctic ice has shrunk to 60% of what it should be, and the tropics have expanded to where they shouldn’t be before the end of the century. The Amazon is drying out. The Greenland ice sheet is melting quicker than expected. The soil and oceans are not absorbing our excess carbon as they used to, and global dimming caused by sulphites in the atmosphere disguises just how bad it really is.” While the politicians are lagging behind the science, he said, the scientists are struggling to keep up with the physical reality. He pointed out that we have a government that tells us not to boil too much water in our kettles, while it builds more roads, runways and coal-fired power stations. He ridiculed the minister who said recently that obesity is as big a problem as climate change, saying that this demonstrated just how stupid the people running the country really are. In the past week of talks at Bali, he said, the US government had not negotiated in good faith, instead scheming and manoeuvring to attract allies for its mission to wreck the talks and block meaningful progress. The scale of a climate catastrophe, he said, could dwarf all the genocides of the past century put together.
Watch Phil Thornhill's speech: http://www.youtube.com/v/vEv_zUEGV8k
George Monbiot opened by telling the rally about a new, cheap and efficient method of carbon capture and storage, requiring no new technological development, and ready for deployment straight away. It is called, he said, Leaving Fossil Fuels in the Ground. He described how while our leaders, the “pollutocracy” he called them, were prevaricating in Balie, he and some others had occupied a new open-cast mine in Merthyr Tydfil and shut it down for the day. He highlighted the way that the government was pursuing two contradictory strategies – one the one hand dissuading us from using fossil fuels, and on the other, encouraging the extraction of fossil fuels from the ground. All climate change policies currently concentrate on managing demand; there are no supply-side policies, so therefore he said, no current policies can work. If fossil fuels are extracted then they will be used. He said that between now and 2027, at current rates of growth, we will use as much resources as humanity has ever used. He went on to explain the problem with capitalism. At the heart of capitalism is the process of lending money at interest. You lend one hundred pounds, and you expect to get one hundred and five pounds back. But if you get back one hundred and five pounds then you have done one of two things; either you have increased the money supply by five percent, or you have increased the speed at which people spend by five percent. Unless that five percent increase is matched by a corresponding five percent increase in the supply of goods or services, then that five percent becomes five percent inflation. The Bank of England exists to ensure that the supply of goods and services matches the supply of money, and therefore capitalism is inherently dedicated to a growth economy. There is no such thing as green capitalism, he said. One does not need to take a political position, such as to declare oneself to be a socialist, one just needs to understand that mathematically it cannot work. Our challenge, he said, is not just to change our light bulbs or ride our bikes, or even to de-carbonise our energy supply by 100%. Our challenge is to change our entire economic system, requiring a profound ethical and philosophical shift, which can only take place within our own hearts.
Watch George Monbiot's speech (part 1): http://www.youtube.com/v/LqihjZNtDJ4
Watch George Monbiot's speech (part 2): http://www.youtube.com/v/r3dgvqNj93I
Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/v/3Y4S7jzulhw
Sorry everyone :-(