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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 November 2006, 19:51 GMT
Climate protest goes 'mainstream'
By Alex Kleiderman
BBC News

As thousands of people joined a march and rally in London calling for action on climate change on the eve of global talks in Nairobi many were publicly adding their voice to the campaign for the first time.

Stuart Graham
Stuart Graham feels businesses still need to do more

A multitude of signs - Flood Warning, Cut the Carbon, Climate chaos kills, Solar not Nuclear, Cheap Flights Cost the Earth - reflected a diverse set of interests from different organisations.

Many demonstrators, however, said they were representative of a growing green awareness and the belief that governments need to be persuaded to take more action to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gasses.

Barbara Glen, from West London, who turned up with student son Tom, 18, for the first time on such a march felt the UK government was not doing enough to tackle climate change.

"It's obviously a huge issue and there does not seem to be a lot of action happening, said Mrs Glen.

"If people show they care then the government will hopefully take a bit of notice."

Hope for change

Stuart Graham, from Portsmouth, said the demands of businesses were still being listened to far more than the public.

"For most businesses, the bottom line is the money and at the moment they won't do anything until it hurts."

But Mr Graham was hopeful that demonstrations could lead to change.

"You only have to look at the number of people out here - it has been seen as a fringe issue but there are so many people marching it's definitely becoming more mainstream," he said.

It will take more serious climate change before they act start doing something
Begonia Ivarra

Also among those on the march was journalist John-Paul Flintoff.

"A year-and-a-half ago it felt like no one was paying any attention," he said.

"Now a lot of people are paying attention even if they are denying it."

But Mr Flintoff suggested politicians still need to take a greater lead.

"I have spoken to some of them and they have said they are not going to do more until people put the pressure on them," he said.

Speakers at the Trafalgar Square rally urged the government to push for a global treaty to cap global warming at 2C or less, as well as helping developing countries to adapt to climate change.

"I hope this demo will make governments change their attitudes, not just rely on companies to change but actually change laws so companies will be forced to lower emissions," said demonstrator Begonia Ivarra, from London.

But she was pessimistic saying: "I think it will take longer for governments to change. It will take more serious climate change before they act start doing something."

Stella Shackel
Stella Shackel said individual action was the way to start
As the march snaked its way through the West End, it passed Mayfair car dealers showcasing the latest 4X4s and high emission sports vehicles.

However the symbolism did not elicit a hostile response with the Metropolitan Police saying that there had been no arrests during the day.

The demonstrators - a few who had taken to pedal powered contraptions festooned with banners - seemed to be more accepting of the view that changing the opinions of potential purchasers of the cars was the way forward.

"We want to work towards a stable economy but also try and preserve the environment as well," said ecologist Stella Shackel, who travelled from Liverpool for the march.

Ms Shackel said the government should provide more financial incentives for people to go green.

However, she was among those who felt action at home was the best way to start.

"I believe even an individual person can make a difference," she said.

"It does not have to be all about government policy although that obviously helps," she said.

"Every individual can make a difference by turning lights off, conserving water and thinking of how they use transport... You have to stay positive."


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