Green Power on the march: Thousands unite to rally against global warming

A A A

People power comes to the fight against climate change today as Britain witnesses its biggest march and rally demanding the Government acts against the threat of global warming.

From the rock band Razorlight to members of the Women's Institute, from the singer K T Tunstall to the Bishop of Liverpool, the expected crowd of 20,000 in Trafalgar Square will be as wide a cross-section of society as can be assembled anywhere.

The Stop Climate Chaos event brings together an even broader coalition of groups than that behind last year's Make Poverty History events: 40 organisations, ranging from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth to Oxfam, from Surfers Against Sewage to the Ramblers' Association.

The unprecedented demonstration comes in the wake of the Stern Review on the economics of climate change, published on Monday, and on the eve of this year's UN climate conference, which is being held in Nairobi, Kenya, over the next two weeks.

Two polls show that public concern over the climate is rising steadily, with more than half of Britons now saying that they would accept green taxes to cut pollution, and 40 per cent saying a party's climate change policies would influence the way they vote.

The Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, spoke out on the climate issue yesterday, telling an audience in Delhi that the Indian subcontinent could face a combination of drought and rising sea levels - devastating crop yields and forcing millions to flee their homes - as a result of soaring global temperatures.

Tony Blair was told by Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, in talks at Downing Street that tackling climate change will be a priority for the German presidency of the G8 group of industrialised countries in the new year.

Ashok Sinha, director of the Stop Climate Chaos organisation, said: "The event reflects how widespread the concern about climate change is. It is emerging out of the green box. People realise it is not just an environmental question but a moral one."

Those who attend today's event will be asked to sign up to the "I Count" register, committing them to an individual contribution to the climate change cause. Those who cannot attend can register online at www.icount.org.uk. A new 16-step "I Count" guide to reducing carbon emissions, featured this week in The Independent, has been published by Penguin to coincide with the rally.

The event has two main political demands - that the UK Government negotiates an international deal to keep global warming to less than 2C; and that it introduces a climate change Bill to the Queen's Speech which - like The Independent's own proposed climate change bill last week - would deliver annual cuts in UK carbon dioxide emissions.

The closest Britain has come to an environmental protest on such a scale before has been the Campaign against Climate Change protests outside the US embassy in London's Grosvenor Square last year, which attracted 10,000 people.

Today's event, however, draws in a wider band of activist groups, some of which are relatively new to climate protest. The Women's Institute's 215,000 membership identified climate change as a primary concern at their national federation AGM last year.

The Ramblers' Association is concerned about the effects of climate change on the footpaths, fells and coastlines of the UK. "The event is a chance for us to indicate that this is very much a fundamental issue of concern for us," said Patrick Brady, head of countryside protection at the organisation.

As a sign of their commitment to the cause, many of those travelling to today's event will do so in a carbon-free way, including cyclists from Somerset, walkers from the West Midlands, and one group paddling down the Thames by canoe from Oxford.

The protest, which sits firmly in a proud tradition of environmental campaigning tracing its roots through the mass trespass movement of the 1930s to the anti-road building movement of the 1990s, shows Britain is not prepared to sit back and wait for politicians to find answers to the climate change crisis.

New public opinion readings confirm that. A Populus poll yesterday for BBC2's The Daily Politics programme showed that more than half of Britons (53 per cent) agree the Government should impose higher taxes on activities that cause pollution - even if it means the end of cheap flights and driving a car becomes more expensive (45 per cent disagreed).

A survey undertaken by TNS Omnimas for Stop Climate Chaos, reveals only 4 per cent of the population believe Tony Blair has made effective progress on the issue, while 40 per cent claim climate change policies would influence their vote.

Today's events

* 11.15am. Christian church service at Grosvenor Chapel, 24 South Audley Street , W1, addressed by Rt Rev Richard Chartres, Bishop of London.

* Midday. The first of a number of "feeder" events that anyone can join. Around 5,000 people are expected at a Campaign Against Climate Change rally outside Grosvenor Square.

Another, under the banner of the People and Planet organisation, takes place in Malet Street, WC1, followed by a procession to the main event in a Rio-style parade.

* 12.30. The Rt Rev James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, addresses a gathering in the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, staged by Tearfund and Christian Aid. By now, street performances will be under way in Trafalgar Square. A big screen will also be in Trafalgar Square screening films about climate change and the work organisations are doing to tackle it.

* 1pm. Main event starts in Trafalgar Square. Speakers and performers include K T Tunstall, Miranda Richardson, the Bishop of Liverpool, Razorlight and Adam Hart Davis. The event wraps up at 3pm.

News
Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
i100
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Sport
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
tv
News
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Extras
indybest
News
i100... and no one notices
Arts and Entertainment
Friends reunited: Julian Ovenden, Richard Cant and Matt Bardock in rehearsals for the Donmar revival of 'My Night
with Reg'
theatrePoignancy of Kevin Elyot's play being revived just after his death
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Training Programme Manager (Learning and Development)-London

£28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...

Training/Learning and Development Coordinator -London

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Training/Learning and Development Co...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The successful applicant w...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobThe successful ...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor