Croydon on the climate change march, Saturday 7th March 2015


By - Wednesday 18th March, 2015

One Saturday in March, a group of Croydonians set out to make a difference. Peter Underwood reports


Green Croydonians on the march.
Photo by Grace Onions, used with permission.

On Saturday 7th March a group of Croydon residents met at East Croydon station before heading up to central London. We were on our way to join many thousands of others on a march to highlight the need for action on climate change.

We were a diverse group with representatives from Croydon Greenpeace, Croydon Friends of the Earth, the Real Nappy Network, the Stop the Incinerator campaign, Croydon Transition Town and Croydon Green Party. The one thing that brought us all together is the belief that we have heard enough talking from politicians about how we need to do something about climate change – it’s time that they got on with doing something.

The march took two hours – from Lincoln’s Inn Fields to College Green outside the Houses of Parliament. The only estimate of numbers I’ve seen is ‘well over 20,000’ and it’s difficult to estimate crowds without a lot of experience – but the sense of being in the company of many others with similar beliefs is always encouraging. For all of us on the march it was good to be reminded that we are part of a wider movement. Speakers included Kat Hobbs from Arms to Renewables, Bert Wander from Avaaz, Guy Shrubsole of Friends of the Earth, climate activist ‘Pete The Temp’, Caroline Lucas MP and a video message from Vivienne Westwood.

On climate change, the more we learn the worse the picture looks

It seems that every conference on climate change breaks up with no agreement reached and politicians all blaming each other for the fact that they haven’t done anything. In the meantime, the scientific consensus that human activity is damaging the climate is growing ever stronger the more research we do and the more we improve our scientific methods the worse the picture looks.

So what do we mean by acting on climate change? The simple answer is that we need to reduce our use of coal, gas and oil as quickly as possible.

The UK government is still giving away far more money in tax cuts and subsidies to fossil fuels than it is to renewable energy. We need to reverse this immediately. The UK has the best renewable energy potential in Europe. If we took advantage of our windy coastlines, tidal ranges, sunny days and our other sources of renewable energy we could easily become a net energy exporter.

Here in Croydon we could cut our energy usage by making it easier and cheaper for people to insulate their homes. If we had a national insulation campaign, this would not only create jobs and cut energy use it would also mean that the poorest in society wouldn’t have to suffer in cold damp homes – improving their health and the education outcomes for their children. The more young Croydon families choose re-useable nappies, the less material we’ll send to landfill – and recycling is making a real difference here too.

Local groups are small, but when we come together we can see that we do make a difference

Other measures such as moving freight from road to rail, cutting unnecessary domestic flights, and helping more people to leave their cars at home and use public transport instead would all reduce fuel use and improve our air quality – important for all of us city dwellers. If we can get more people walking and cycling then we will be a lot healthier as well.

Local groups like those in Croydon are often small in numbers and it can sometimes feel as if we are struggling to have an impact. Campaigning, particularly in the face of setbacks such as those to the group opposing the Beddington incinerator, can feel like a real challenge. But when we all come together, it’s clear that we do make a difference and the evidence shows that those of us who believe we must act on climate change are now in the majority. We all came home feeling inspired.

There are some people who still refuse to believe that the climate is changing because of human activity, despite all of the evidence to show that it is. If it turns out that we are wrong and they are right I will be as happy as anyone else, but in the meantime I still think we should stop just talking about climate change and get on with doing something about it.

Peter Underwood

Peter Underwood

Peter has lived in Croydon for over fifteen years. Having previously worked in the civil service, he now works for the Conservation Volunteers – running their projects in and around Croydon and supporting local groups looking after our parks and green spaces. Peter is an active member of the Green Party and has stood as a candidate in national and local elections and in London Assembly elections.

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  • mememine

    The Uncomfortable Truth;

    34 years of science agreeing to be 99% certain we need to SAVE THE PLANET makes another 34 years of climate action FAILURE 100% certain.

    Deny that.

    • CB

      The accounts MeMeMine and Zosha123 are fully-automated spam accounts which post the same “skeptical” phrases on any article mentioning climate change.

      Please downvote and mark as spam.

      Mod, please permanently terminate the account’s access.

      • TeaPartyGeezer

        Poor little CB. Finally met his match … and I do mean ‘match.’

        • CB

          “Poor little CB. Finally met his match”

          lol!

          What does your post have to do with the effect of CO₂ on planetary temperature?