A climate change demonstration organised by Durham Churches Together was held on Saturday to demand “tougher action” on climate change. This came in anticipation of the UN Climate Conference in Paris.
The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (or COP21), being held from 30th November to the 11th December, seeks to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on how to deal with climate change, from all the nations of the world.
The groups at the demonstration included Transition Durham, the Green Party, Green Peace and Avaaz, along with student groups like Durham University People and Planet, Durham Young Greens and Just Love, Durham.
Secretary for Durham Churches Together, Kirsty Thomas, told Palatinate that her hope for the event was to “To put a marker down that Durham cares about the planet.
“This is not about individual groups – we all share this planet. The whole world must stand together.
“I have been delighted by the sense of unity and solidarity at today’s demonstration. There are secular and religious groups, students and residents, all thoughtful people who care about future generations.”
Jonathon Elmer, Green Party candidate for Durham City, called for a massive “momentum change” in the current government action on climate change, calling the green movement a “struggle with the most powerful in society”.
He spoke on divestment, noting that Durham City Council has £127 million of its total pension investments in fossil fuels – 6% of the total.
Alex Hill, a student from Van Mildert college, said that she was attending the event because “Climate change is one of the most important issues facing us today.
“I want to be optimistic about the Paris conference, but I think I will be disappointed. However, I think that we can make some steps in the right direction.”
Nina Campbell, a postgraduate student at St Cuthbert’s Society, told Palatinate: “I think it’s really important to come because one thing we can do as the general public is to make our make our presence felt, and our voices heard through demonstrations like this.”
However, she said she had been “disappointed” with the lack of wider student engagement in the issue.
“We’re on a course that’s about energy and society and there was no talk of it in lectures. Half of the class didn’t know that this was happening”.
When trying to put up posters around the University, Campbell reported the “negative” response she had received from University staff – being discouraged from doing so.
Photograph: Isabelle Pallier