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Thousands march in London to call for ’urgent’ climate action

BI Desk || BusinessInsider

Published: 00:11, 23 June 2024  
Thousands march in London to call for ’urgent’ climate action

Photo: Collected

Thousands of protestors from across the UK marched through central London on Saturday to call for "urgent political action" on nature.

The 'Restore Nature Now' march was joined by some 350 charities ranging from protest groups like Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion to more mainstream organisations like the National Trust and WWF.

People came from "all over the UK", according to one protestor, with a list of demands including making "polluters pay" and improving support for farmers in an increased "climate-friendly farming budget".

The march also called for an Environmental Rights Bill to establish the right to a healthy environment in the next parliament following a general election next month.

Protesters weaved down one side of Hyde park in the British capital, marching past Downing street to Parliament square dressed in wildlife-themed costumes and donning quirky headgear and masks.

Accompanied by songs, chants of "restore nature now" and more than one drum circle, protestors called for climate change and nature to be prioritised in the election campaign and by the next government.

British actor Emma Thompson led the march, saying that her message was for the government to "stop being so deeply, deeply irresponsible".

Thompson told AFP at the march that she couldn't believe the "lack of engagement" of political parties during the ongoing election campaign.

"We're in the eye of the storm... Everyone cares about the beauty of our islands and we are losing it so fast", she added.

She was joined at the front of the procession by wildlife TV presenter and activist Chris Packham, who criticised politicians for "not taking the action that they need to rapidly enough and broadly enough", adding that he was "not terribly impressed" with parties' election manifestos.

we have to stand up and make sure that they understand that we're going to hold them to account", he told AFP.

- 'Not enough' -

One protestor wanted to see water companies nationalised by the next government.

Carrying cut-outs of fish, Frances Dismore from a river restoration group said, "all these cardboard critters that we're carrying today, we've met in person on our river, so we're very much concerned about safeguarding them".

Dismore added that the river that she was campaigning for, the River Lea in north-east London and east England, was "impacted by all the issues that all other rivers in England are impacted by."

River and water cleanliness has been a hot topic this election, with several sewage spill scandals over the last few years drawing the ire of climate activists.

Earlier on the campaign trail, leader of the smaller Liberal Democrats party fell off a paddleboard into a lake to demonstrate the severity of England's sewage crisis.

The opposition Labour party, which looks poised to win power this election, has pledged to end new oil and gas exploration licences in the North Sea and create a publicly owned clean energy company called Great British Energy.

However, Labour leader Keir Starmer was previously criticised for ditching a pledge to spend £28 billion a year on green infrastructure.

The Conservatives' have watered down committments on how they would reach the UK's 2050 net-zero target through pushing back a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2050.

For Jane Price, who came down with Extinction Rebellion from Stratford-upon-Avon, the timing of the march was a way to tell political parties "we will vote for you if the climate and the ecology is on your agenda."

"Everywhere you look", she added "there's not enough being done".