Welsh Green Dragon

Dai the Dragon steals the show at ‘The Wave’ by Chris Halpin

This is the last call for the 7.00am bus from Cardiff next stop…

Despite  a very early start and it being a pretty dismal December day, people turned out in droves to march on the Houses of Parliament in London to demand action on controlling Climate Change.

The morning started for me with an early coach ride laid on by The Co-operative from Cardiff where I met a very friendly bunch of people from around South East Wales. I asked Christian, who’s a social worker from Cardiff, why he forfeited his lie in for a day of demonstrating.

After shamelessly plugging this blog I set about my mammoth task of documenting the day, which you may have seen on our twitterfeed and you can also listen to in the podcast/documentary that will be on the site by the end of the week.

… London Grosvenor Square

When we arrived in London, Dai the Blue Dragon emerged from his cave (well the underpass off Park Lane) to join the throng of people gathered for The Wave rally and march which would set off from Grosvenor Square.

At one o’clock the procession of blue began to snake its way through central London bringing traffic to a standstill and leaving tourists and onlookers bemused on the pavement. Bands played, drums were beaten, as we passed The Ritz and Picadilly Circus in a steady trickle towards our final destination, Westminster bridge.

Despite the numbers and strong feeling amongst campaigners, the day’s event passed by without trouble, except for a handful of climate change deniers who shouted abuse from outside the cordon as the procession reached Trafalgar Square.

Who represented Wales at ‘The Wave’?

I joined campaigners from the Stop Climate Chaos Cymru Coalition which included representatives from Oxfam and Friends of the Earth, and asked them why taking part in The Wave was important. I spoke to Haf Elgar, a campaigner for Friends of the Earth Cymru, who has been planning Wales’ presence at The Wave for months. I asked what she thought about the ‘ClimateGate’ scandal at the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia.

I also spoke to Luned Jones, who is a campaign officer for Oxfam Cymru who I managed to tear away from leading the welsh Stop Climate Chaos brigade for a mini interview. I asked her about the policing of the event.

On that note, one policeman confessed how he was glad to be at a protest which he could actually sympathise with, and how the atmosphere was more reminiscent of a carnival than a highly charged political rally.

The culmination of the day’s event was ‘The Wave’ itself, where by 3pm the line had completely encircled parliament. When Big Ben bonged three times, 50,000 pairs of hands painted blue or snug within gloves waved frantically towards the Palace of Westminster. Right on cue the heavens opened; what a great irony.

By three the protest was over and we were shepherded to the buses. Cheers for campaigning, now go home please! If there were a competition for the best protest declaration, Dai the Dragon would have come first. He got a lot of media attention and earned his spot on Sky News, BBC national news and BBC Online on Saturday. When he crossed the line we had shouts of ‘well done Wales’- we felt like we had run a marathon.

Was it all worth it?

The question is how succesful was the demonstration? It certainly gained plenty of media attention and recognition from our government, with Gordon Brown inviting 24 Stop Climate Chaos representatives to 10 Downing Street afterwards. Ed Miliband was also getting involved at the start of the protest down in Grosvenor Square doing interviews from the top of the media bus. Whether it will influence the politicians at the Copenhagen summit still remains to be seen.

I think its useful however to put the numbers into context. Fifty thousand people is a lot, but not extraordinary – you only have to look at the Anti War rallies in 2003 where an estimated one million people took to the streets in opposition to the invasion of Iraq.

Arguably, the threat of imminent war is more real than the omnipresent and invisible threat that Climate Change poses. In the developed world, and especially northern hemisphere, we are yet to see any lasting effects of climate change; it’s the poorest nations and far away shores who are suffering first. Yet climate change will affect everybody eventually and could have catastrophic consequences. The fact that the amassed crowd is representative of only 1,240th of the population of Britain is alarming.

A few of my colleagues went out into Cardiff today to randomly ask shoppers about what they thought of the Copenhagen Summit starting. Many people busy doing their Christmas chopping gave blank expressions and didn’t know a thing about what they were being asked. Other cynical people who had heard of the summit thought it was just the politicians’ excuse to ‘go on a jolly’.

I hate to end on a pessimistic note as you couldn’t help but feel upbeat after spending the day with like-minded environmentally aware people at ‘The Wave’. Unfortunately it seems that back in the real wide world such progressive thinkers are in the minority.


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[…] protestors that travelled from all over Wales will have to wait until the end of the summit to see what contribution the Welsh team have made and […]

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