Over a hundred protestors gathered in Bournemouth this afternoon demanding a call to action on the climate emergency. In solidarity with locations across the world, the demo marched through Bournemouth’s Lower Gardens as part of the organized mass movement to mark a Global Day of Action halfway through the COP26 summit.
Holding DIY signs and banners, members from a dozen local groups – including Extinction Rebellion BCP, Planet Purbeck, and the Socialist Worker Party – rallied together at Pier Approach alongside families. The march began at 3.30 pm as the group formed a procession, led by a Greenpeace banner which read “STOP FAILING US!”, and snaked through the gardens and back to the pier. Throughout, they shouted familiar protest chants.
A real sense of passion for climate issues and anger towards those in power was palpable amongst attendees of the demonstration. The prevalent opinion was one echoed by eco-warriors across the world: that politicians are not taking their issues seriously.
Property manager Greg Lambe, carrying an Extinction Rebellion flag, said: “What we need to do is hold the politicians’ feet to the fire and make sure they act – and we need to do it now.” Liz, a support worker, said: “They need to wake the f*** up. It’s real, you know, there’s no time left.”
Christel, a supporter of the Insulate Britain campaign group who have made national news for gluing themselves to roads and disrupting motorway traffic, asserted that politicians were an obstacle towards real progress: “They’re too slow … we need a citizen’s assembly to bypass them, to have a different group that can act on things that are more important for our survival.”
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area has been ranked by CDP, a not-for-profit organization assessing environmental adaptation and mitigation strategies, as one of 100 urban conurbations worldwide – alongside only 4 others in the UK – that are leading on climate action.
In 2019 BCP Council declared a climate and ecological emergency, pledged to eliminate the authority’s own carbon footprint before 2030, and are working on a draft action plan for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole to become carbon neutral by 2050.
The council recently released a list of 26 steps they had taken to tackle climate change in 2021, including a commitment to plant 10,000 new trees and the approval of a new nature park in Throop.
Despite this, BCP council’s attitude towards environmental policies came under fire at the protest. Dr Felicity Rice, Independent BCP councillor, made the accusatory charge that “the culture has not changed within the council” in a speech after the march.
The Global Day of Action for Climate Justice is one of several protests taking place between the 1st and 12th November as the UK hosts the COP26 summit in Glasgow. The meeting of world leaders, policy-makers, financiers, environmentalists, and scientists hopes to make real progress on the pledges of the Paris Agreement, an international treaty signed in 2015 to limit global temperature rise to only 1.5 celsius.