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Thursday, 27th July 2017

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Why I am joining The People’s Climate March, and why ALL STUDENTS need to be there too!

Matt Sellar, student of International Environment and Climate Change Law at Edinburgh University, looks ahead to the People’s Climate March and explains why students should join with thousands of people on the streets of London on Sunday 21 September to demand action on climate change.

Peoples Climate March 2014

I’ve grown up with climate change. By the time I was four almost all the countries on earth had acknowledged the clear and serious threat posed by climate change to human life around the world. Yet here we are twenty-one years later, my home country, the UK, is currently renewing its long term commitment to fossil fuels, embarking on a vast project to frack the British countryside. International corporations are engaged in increasingly risky and desperate attempts to get at the earth’s last untapped oil reserves, and the world’s governments are doing little more than nothing.

To date, UN negotiations have completely failed to produce a plan that will limit global warming to anything near the 2 degrees rise that we have internationally agreed it would be disastrous to exceed. Over the same period scientists have again, and again, and again, warned us of the dangers of climate change and the necessity of moving away from fossil fuels. We now even have a clear idea of how much carbon we, as a planet, can release into the atmosphere whilst still having a good chance of avoiding runaway climate change. Yet world governments have made no moves to incorporate this figure into global agreements on climate change or into domestic energy policy.

Something needs to happen. We need a serious evidence-based response to climate change, and we can get it, but only if we demand it in numbers so large that our politicians cannot ignore us. This is why we need as many students as possible to be there on the 21st of September. We’ve had the privilege of being educated in the dangers of climate change, yet mostly we do nothing, the Climate March is a chance for us to act on our education and show our government that we do not accept their inaction.

What’s more, now is the right time to demand this change. In the past six months we’ve seen the first stirrings of real momentum in international action on climate change. In May, Obama announced major curbs on carbon pollution from US power plants, this was shortly followed by China raising the prospect of capping its carbon emissions. Although both these announcements don’t go nearly far enough, they represent a clear sign of intent from both countries and go a long way to restoring momentum to global efforts to tackle climate change.

However more than these announcements it’s the actions of students and wider civil society across the world that can really push politicians to deliver climate action. Over the past year we’ve seen an unprecedented level of civil society action on climate change, the climate movement is growing, organising, and increasingly delivering major successes. In the continued rise of fossil fuel divestment, the strength of anti-fracking protests, and the wider move towards direct action we can see a movement poised to grow in the next year. The Climate March isn’t the be all and end all for climate activism but it can be the starting gun for a year of increased action, campaigning, and escalation from the climate movement. When the New York Climate Summit puts the media spotlight on climate change we need to be on the streets, visible, loud and in huge numbers. To change everything, we need everyone.

Sign up to be part of the People’s Climate March London here.

Or find a mobilisation near you here.

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