Thousands march in London to press for climate change action in Paris talks

Tens of thousands of climate change marchers in London are joined by fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and singer Peter Gabriel.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (NOVEMBER 29, 2015) (REUTERS) – Tens of thousands of environmental campaigners marched through central London on Sunday (November 29) on the eve of the Paris climate change talks.

Organisers said the London march attracted even more people once it had been announced that the Paris demonstration would be cancelled due to security concerns following the Paris attacks which killed 130 people.

“Here in London we are taking up the slack where Parisians aren’t able to march and we are representing them as well as the rest of the world,” said Alex Wilks, one of the organisers from the campaign group Avaaz.

Celebrities, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel were among the crowds.

Gabriel, a veteran human right activist, told Reuters he hopes the Paris summit will produce concrete, measurable plans to combat climate change.

“I’d like to see teeth in the agreement and I don’t know how you guarantee enforcement but many countries are happy to talk the talk, but it is walking the walk that we really have to guarantee, that there is some follow through – that’s what I’d like to see,” he said.

Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, joined the demonstration. The embattled veteran activist is currently under fire from within his own party for declaring he could not back Britain launching airstrikes on Syria.

He said issues like the fight against ISIS should not overshadow the climate change summit, because environmental issues are at the heart of many of the world’s problems.

“It’s always the issue, because the issue is about the world in which we live it’s also about the resources that we use and there are some aspects of terrible conflicts around the world which are related to resources, so it is important in many ways,” he said.

Representatives from indigenous peoples around the world, who are attending the summit, came as guests of honour at the London march after the Paris one was cancelled.

“The Sami people we are in the Arctic area and what is happening right now, the Arctic is melting and at the same time the base of our culture is also vanishing. We are winter people and we need snow and ice,” said Jenni Laiti, a Laplander from Sweden.

Sina Brown-Davis is from New Zealand’s Ngati Whatua tribe.

“As an indigenous person I am here to defend Mother Earth and then I see people from different cultures, different walks of life in London and we are all here to defend the planet and it gives me a lot of heart to keep in fighting. I feel really emboldened by all this solidarity,” she said.

The London march comprised campaigners from many different factions, all keen to brighten up a cold, grey and windy November day with their costumes, banners and music.

Just before the march set off on its route towards parliament, Vivienne Westwood led the rallying cry declaring: “The rotten financial system is the cause of all our problems, poverty, war, climate change.”

The London demonstration was one of more than 2,000 events taking place across the world.

More than 140 world leaders will gather in Paris on Monday (November 30) for the talks, aimed at forging an international agreement on how they will tackle climate change.