Climate Reality leaders plus friends, family, members of the u3a and students from Warwick University Climate Reality Campus Corps met up and joined over 200 organisations (including Greenpeace, Earthday.org and Friends of the Earth) and tens of thousands of people across Westminster. Our group of over seventy people included eleven-year-old twins James and Emma Chapman, and four octogenarians – a truly intergenerational day.
The day of peaceful activism, aka ‘The Big One’, was coordinated by Extinction Rebellion. The demand was that the government ends all new licenses, approvals, and funding for fossil fuel projects, and for citizens assemblies to lead on fair, long-term solutions for the most urgent issues of our time.
On behalf of Climate Reality Europe and Europe Beyond Fossil Fuels coalition we specifically called for a citizen’s assembly to include a 2030 coal phase-out and a 2035 fossil fuel phase-out in the power sector.
Despite the grey and drizzle, everyone met up on London’s South Bank. Banners and homemade placards gave a celebratory atmosphere however, an important duty was to be fulfilled. With precision timing, the rain stopped and knowing that we had his full support, we gathered in a circle and gave a short speech about our dearly departed friend and former manager of Climate Reality Europe, Zsolt Bauer. A minute of silence was held in his honor.
Climate Reality team UK’s picket line was outside the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ). Fellow organisations in this location included Stop Rosebank, Fossil Free London, Biofuel Watch, Don’t Pay UK, Fuel Poverty Action and many local XR groups from around the UK.
Throughout the day we listened to powerful and informative speeches, introduced ourselves, and discovered new organisations. There was a mass citizen's assembly-style workshop where views were sent to local MPs on pink origami boats. Troops of XR drummers gave an energetic boost to all around, everyday people young and old with messages on placards, parades of activists, scscientiststrade unions, and people from all sectors of society expressing that urgent action needs to be taken to address the climate emergency. The hive of activity would have been impossible to ignore from within the government departments.
‘It was so enlightening to see different communities come together for this incredible day of activism. It really reinforces the messages, and facts, we are pushing out and hoping to create change with. The most impactful aspect for me personally was seeing children with placards and messages about the uncertainty of their future. That's the reality, the climate reality, we all face.’
Oliver Payton, Warwick University Climate Reality Campus Corps
‘I think it’s time for local groups . . . to set up info tables in town centers on the climate crisis, display the important information, inform ourselves of the current facts, welcome discussion from people, spread the word and enable others to take part . . . other forms of action have been largely ignored by government and media’
‘We have a small window to make critical choices. Governments have to come together and stop this shameful inaction and exploitation of fossil fuels. It is not acceptable and we’re here to call it out and demand a just and fairer society for all. Heavy investment into renewable energy – onshore and offshore wind and solar energy infrastructure is by far the quickest way and with the levelised cost over the last 10 years there are now no excuses.’
Versha Jones, Climate Reality Leader – speaking at the DESNZ People’s Picket
‘This will be a great memory to hold on to and Climate Reality has made me more aware of the damage to our planet.’
Emma Chapman, age 11
‘Everyone was extremely friendly and it was very well organised.’
James Chapman, age 11
Overall, it was a unifying experience. With adequate mass media coverage this important action had the potential to reach millions of people to inform and educate about climate change, show support for those that are vulnerable and allow questions to be raised. So roll up your sleeves, engage with your community, join an action group, ask questions of your local MP and make your stand. There are no fair conditions on a planet wrecked by an unstable climate and the ecological and humanitarian disasters it is causing. It remains to be seen how soon governments will take decisive action, with a long-term outlook to heavily divert investment into rapidly scaled up renewable energy projects. It is clear however, that delay is not an option.
Versha Jones, Climate Reality leader – 28 April 2023