Bettina Trabant reports
The ‘This Changes everything’ event, named after Canadian journalist Naomi Klein book, saw several hundred people gather in Friend’s Meeting House in London on Saturday to debate Climate change and listen to a host of speakers from a range of campaigns.
The day started off with a Skype talk by Naomi Klein where she emphasised the need for activists to unite their various campaigns to create a vibrant and radical climate movement. She further warned activists not to have a repeat of the protests around the COP talks in Copenhagen in 2009, where many activists were left feeling demoralised.
Following on from Klein’s talk we heard speeches from Nathalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party; Lidy Nacpil from the Philippines; Paul Mason, an economic journalists and various others.
The format for the morning sessions consisted of a mixture of short talks as well as questions and contributions from the floor.
After lunch the participants were divided into several smaller groups for movement workshops on climate change and radical politics. Each group was given a host of questions to debate for 10 minutes at a time. Questions included: Do we need a revolution to achieve climate change? Why climate change matter? Why did you come to the event?
The views expressed in the sessions were diverse, ranging from revolutionary socialist, to deep green positions. One of the workshops even saw a couple of climate change deniers infiltrate the discussion, but they were completely marginalised.
The day ended with another plenary session kicked off by comedian Russell Brand who passionately talked about various campaigns and the need for revolution.
Brand was followed by a whole host of speakers, including PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka and Asad Rehman from friends of the earth .
The organisers of This Changes Everything have established working groups on various climate related issues for people to take part in and they hope to turn the fight for climate into a mass movement.
Talking to participants throughout the day there were a range of opinions about the event. One participant called the day: ’Inspiring’ and was impressed by the range of speakers. Other participants felt that there could have been a higher level of politics and more input and participation from audience.
Whatever stance one takes on the event, the fact that a small group of leftwing activists have managed to get several hundred people into Friend’s Meeting House clearly shows that there is a growing interest in climate issues and campaigning and the need for the left to make it a central issue.