Saturday, 5 December 2009

The Wave Climate Change March

Today David and I joined 50,000 others marching through central London as part of The Wave Climate Change March. We started the day at Westminster Central Hall where we took part in an ecumenical service. The Hall was packed with 2000 people with another 1000 people gathered in the overflow room. David and Christine Elliot, Secretary of External Relationships in the Connexional Team took part in the service as did Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Joel Edwards the former director the Evangelical Alliance and Steve Clifford his successor.

Christine interviewed Umme Kulsum from Bangladesh and Philippe Ouedraogo from Burkina Faso about how climate change was a current reality for their countries.

Rowan Williams encouraged us to share the good news of God’s creation and suggested that trying to make people more anxious about the future of our world was counter-productive but moving forward in hope and in the knowledge of God’s grace was the message we should be taking on to the streets.

After the service we walked up to Grosvenor Square to the start of the rally opposite the American embassy. The march was to take us through some of the most affluent parts of London, from Mayfair to Piccadilly past Trafalgar Square along Whitehall and then we started to surround Westminster by crossing Lambeth Bridge and then back across Westminster Bridge. The march started at 1pm and whilst the main Mexican style waves around Westminster took place at 3pm, marchers were still entering Parliament Square at 4pm.

It was an amazing sign of ordinary peoples’ commitment to this vitally important issue and politicians were listening. David joined a group who were invited to meet Environment minister Ed Milliband who had joined the march and I joined the Director of Christian Aid, Daleep Murkaji in visiting Gordon Brown at No 10 Downing Street. As we sat around the cabinet table the Prime Minister stressed how important marches of this size were, and how much of a mandate it gave him to push even more strongly to get a binding and meaningful agreement at the Copenhagen summit. I told him about the clear message we had been given at the Methodist Conference by representatives from the Pacific island of Samoa about how we could no longer delay in taking action to address the climate change crisis. And in passing, the Prime Minister sends his greeting to the Methodist Church.

This weekend is part of our visit to the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District and we joined District Chair Revd John Howard and his wife Mary, along with other members of the District, on a coach heading back to Wolverhampton. As we crawled slowly through the traffic in West London as we tried to leave London it was clear that whatever agreement is reached in Copenhagen, we have a lot of work still to do to reduce our reliance on using the car.


Anonymous said...

I was there!
I thought the service before the march was wonderful, some good words from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Just heard your interview on Radio Shropshire, (on i Player) didn't realise you were seeing Gordon Brown, fantastic.
I do hope we can get the message to the USA though, they seem to be a lot of sceptics there! (and here!)
Mike Clark

Anonymous said...

It was great to see you on TV, Richard, and to knw that the church has a voice on the national scene. I only wish the media coudl promote all the positive work teh church is engagning in that is transforming communities.
May you have a peaceful time with your family this Christmas.
Susan Johnson