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13 December 2007

Thousands march against climate change

Climate change demo December 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

Climate change demo December 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

"I SAID the other day it was system change we needed," one young person told his friend as they saw our posters on the Socialist Party stall before the 8 December climate change demo.

Sarah Sachs-Eldridge

As we distributed leaflets and sold papers to protesters, tourists and passers-by, everyone agreed with our general assessment that big business is responsible for the problems facing the environment. Even a policeman sidled up to buy a paper!

The BBC estimated that over 10,000 joined the march, organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change. By the end coach-loads of protesters had arrived and the rain had stopped so the overall turnout was probably higher than that.

Climat change demo December 2005, photo Paul Mattsson

Climat change demo December 2005, photo Paul Mattsson

The weather certainly had an effect. Nonetheless young people, anti-airport expansion groups, green groups, socialists, and many other groups and individuals made their way from Parliament Square to the US embassy.

A BBC World Service survey of more than 22,000 people in 21 countries showed that nine out of ten people said action was necessary on climate change. Two-thirds of people went further, saying "it is necessary to take major steps starting very soon".

Some green campaigners need to realise that this is an issue that socialists and other activists and the vast majority of working-class people take very seriously.

Members and supporters of International Socialist Resistance, Socialist Students and the Socialist Party formed a very loud and political bloc on a relatively quiet demonstration, attracting many youth to join our chants and our campaigns.

Climate change demo December 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

Climate change demo December 2007, photo Paul Mattsson

Our chants called for the nationalisation of big business and public services and for fundamental change in how society is run to address the risk posed to the planet. Throughout the demonstration people could be seen reading the ISR and Socialist Students "Our planet not their profit" leaflet.

The rain made most paper into papier mâché within seconds but where we could find shelter we had an excellent response to our petition calling for the re-nationalisation of public transport.

People felt it was a concrete measure that could be taken which could have an impact on carbon emission levels. This issue also enabled us to discuss the need for new mass workers' parties as an alternative to the parties of big business and sleaze.

At our street meeting at the end of the demonstration, we made the point that you can't control what you don't own. Having heard our ideas and seen us in action, many people made financial donations to our campaigning work and filled in cards to join us.

We will keep campaigning on these issues in schools and universities with a day of action on 'public transport not private profit' in the new year.