On Sunday, the People’s March for Climate, Justice and Jobs will be held in London, with branches of Greenpeace from Greenwich and Lewisham, Croydon, Shoreditch and Tower Hamlets Green Party all in attendance. Yet a new poll shows that public support for climate issues has declined.
The march aims to put pressure on politicians and leaders from over 190 countries as they prepare to negotiate a global, legally binding climate treaty when the Paris climate talks start.
However, a poll released by research group GlobeScan showed that only 48 per cent of citizens living in industrialised countries, including the UK, rate climate as a “very serious” problem, down from 63 per cent in 2009.
More than 7,000 people have signed up for Sunday’s march on a Facebook event. But as organisers prepare for the biggest climate march in history, it is hard to spot advocates of climate issues outside of Greenpeace here in Lewisham.
Denis Vyazmin, 30, a Lewisham web developer originally from Estonia, said: “I didn’t know about the march or the climate talks. I think climate change has been turned into a major political and ideological issue. Politicians conflate the issues and ask people for things that aren’t possible. I’m absolutely positive that our children and grandchildren will live in a far worse world in terms of air quality and a lot of other things. People in Estonia are not taking climate change seriously.”
Phil Alfred, 37, a Lewisham entrepreneur originally from Dominica, said: “I wasn’t aware that this was happening, no. But I might go, it’s important for the future – without the environment, how can we survive? I think that for real change to occur, it’s going to take more from the people in power. We have to reduce mass production and plastic.”
Isabelle Koulentianos, 23, a Lewisham psychology student from Athens, said: “I didn’t know about the march or the COP21. I’m already buying the smaller bottles of deodorant, and I’m using roll-ons instead of spray. People don’t know about this in Greece. Right now they have other problems.”
Doug Miller, GlobeScan Chairman, said: “Our polling suggests a less supportive public opinion context for a Paris deal this year compared to stronger support that existed prior to the failed Copenhagen Climate Summit in December 2009. Real leadership and effective diplomacy will be needed for success in Paris.”
Local Greenpeace organisers have asked people to protest for the climate on behalf of those who cannot, and have promised a large float, people in costumes, face painting and a samba band.
Rachael King, Network Developer in the Outreach Team at Greenpeace, said: “The People’s Climate March in London will be a safe, secure, mobilisation of people who want real progress in tackling climate change. This demonstration will carry a message of hope and a belief in a better future – and what better response could there be to these awful recent events?”
Several attractions have been planned for the event, including an inter-faith gathering hosted by organisations such as World Jewish Relief, Quakers in Britain, Islamic Relief and Christian Aid.
The United Nations climate conference, known as COP21, will be held from November 30 to December 12.
Those who want to join the march are asked to assemble on the east side of Park Lane at 12.00 on Sunday November 29. They will walk to a rally at Millbank and end up before the Houses of Parliament. Members of Greenpeace can meet at 11.30 at Wellington Arch.
Marches will take place in major cities all over the world, except in Paris, where all public gatherings are banned for security reasons in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Friday 13.
Follow Anja Krogstad on Twitter @anjajebe