News from East Kent Climate Action

Five East Kent Climate Action (EKCA) members travelled to Westminster on 22nd April to join a mass rally organised by XR but supported by around 200 different organisations.

 

The event did not attract media attention as, although reports suggested as many as 100,000 people joined over the 4-day event, it was a peaceful protest (as far as we know there were no arrests) and the media only reports environmental protests when they are disruptive, apparently.

 

The 4-day event started on Friday 21st under the theme, ‘Unite to Survive’. Speakers included Caroline Lucas and Brian Eno. There were choirs, various faith vigils and people’s pickets at 10 government departments. Shell locked its doors and called the police when participants tried peacefully to deliver a letter asking Shell to stop all new fossil fuel exploration and extraction.

 

On the Saturday, when we were there, we were celebrating Earth Day. Speakers included Chris Packham and Juliet Stevenson. We joined the March for Biodiversity in the afternoon, carrying banners promoting our local campaign to save local biodiversity especially the rare turtle doves what nest around Betteshanger Park. Other groups were championing their own local campaigns to protect wildlife and many dressed in colourful costumes. It culminated with a mass ‘die in’ on The Mall and around Parliament Square to highlight the face that we know around a million species are threatened with extinction worldwide. The government’s own report (Biodiversity in the UK: Boom or Bust?  30/06/21) noted that ‘since the 1970s 41 per cent of all UK species surveyed have declined, while 15 per cent of species within the UK are said to be threatened with extinction. The abundance of the species of greatest conservation concern; the UK’s priority species, have declined by 60 per cent.’

We were glad to be there and loved the positive atmosphere, the colourful costumes and rousing music, but were a little disappointed not to be able to hear the speakers clearly as the street where the stage was set up was narrow and only the first few rows could really hear well. We were encouraged to write a Letter from the Earth at the end of the march and post it to our MP using the resources provided.

 

Sunday’s theme was ‘Running Out of Time’. Workshops, talks, crafts and marches continued with events for all ages.

 

On Monday, with the Return of Parliament, and under the theme ‘Choose Your Future’, groups were encouraged to engage with their MP and the organisers delivered The Demand to Parliament. The Demand was that the Fossil Fuel era must end and urged the Government to take active steps towards the goals they have set – not just empty promises, and to set up Citizens’ Assemblies to discuss and decide the way forward.

 

It would have been great to spend longer and engage with many more activities – it was such a well-organised event and so encouraging to see so many organisations working together with a strong message but without causing disruption or destruction. Although the police were there in force, they didn’t really need to do anything as it was all very civilised. There was an abundance of stewards to inform and guide participants and ensure that the events went of calmly and safely. It’s such a pity that it was not better reported in our national media.

 

Article supplied by Janet Wakeman

Find out more about East Kent Climate Action on Facebook @ekcclimateaction.

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