Taking the opportunity to tell lawmakers exactly what they think of legislative inaction in the face of the growing climate crisis, an estimated 9,000 Brits on Wednesday descended on London's Westminster Abbey to lobby Members of Parliament (MPs) to add climate change to their agenda.
Beekeepers, surfers, nuns, children, and faith leaders were among the stakeholders present who were urged by protest organizers to "speak up to their MPs about what they love that's affected by climate change."
Roughly 9,000 constituents reportedly queued up in the "lobby line" before meeting face-to-face with individual MPs.
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"Politicians hear a lot from people who have an interest in keeping fossil fuels burning and our temperature warming. Let’s make sure that, as they start out in a new parliament, they hear instead from the vast majority of us who want a cleaner, safer and more sustainable world," wrote the Climate Coalition, which organized the protest and includes over 100 members that range from big international environmental organizations to grassroots and social justice groups.
Those who were unable to attend were encouraged to write their local MP.
Guardian reporter Emma Howard spoke to a number of those participating in the day of action. She writes:
Schoolchildren also took part: Ava and Ruby, both aged eight, from London, met their MP, Labour’s Vicky Foxcroft, of Lewisham Deptford.
Ava said: “I’d miss chocolate – if climate change occurs it will be too hot for cocoa beans to grow. Ruby would miss London because if it gets too hot the polar ice caps will melt and London will be submerged beneath the waves. We think Vicky Foxcroft should tell people to stop drilling for oil and make sure they have 100% clean air and energy.” Ava also said she wanted to become an MP.
... Hugo Tagholm, chief executive of Surfers Against Sewage, arrived at Westminster complete with wetsuit and surf board. “We represent the interests of surfers and other sports enthusiasts who love our coastline and particularly love our surfing habitats. They are at the forefront of the impacts of climate change – whether that’s sea level rises, ocean acidification or increased rainfalls.”
Ahead of the demonstration, the Coalition encouraged participants to create "bunting," on which they would inscribe a message about what they hope to protect from climate change. The final "bunting petition" reportedly stretched along the banks of the River Thames.
Campaigners say that the huge turnout demonstrates how widespread concern over the changing climate has grown—and that elected officials should take that growth as a mandate for climate action.
"Our politicians should be left in no doubt that the public see climate change as a global problem that affects us all and that we expect them to act in this important year to secure a safer future," said Nick Bryer, Oxfam’s head of UK campaigns.
Images of the lobby day were shared online under the hashtag #fortheloveof.