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'We did not come here to shop!'

By Laura Trevelyan | 5 December 2011

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Saturday's global day of action for climate justice saw thousands of campaigners from across the globe march through downtown Durban.

And in marked contrast to the sluggish progress of negotiations at the UN climate change talks over the past week, energy levels on the streets were high. 

As world leaders continued to wrangle in the conference centre, the city was awash with banners, balloons, placards and even a few vuvuzelas as people – many of whom do not have access to the UN meetings – took to the streets to make their voices heard.

‘We did not come to Durban to shop, we came for justice!’

Demonstrators, from China, the US, India, Brazil, Cuba and a range of African nations, among others, braved scorching sun and bursts of rain to dance, sing and even do exercises in support of their message that delegates must overcome political obstacles and agree a second commitment period for the Kyoto protocol.

Young people who had travelled by bus from Kenya to Durban as part of the We Have Faith youth caravan, stripped to the waist and did 17 press-ups in the street to show that they were tired of the lack of progress delivered after a succession of UN meetings. ‘We did not come to Durban to shop, we came for justice,’ said one.

Meanwhile campaigning groups – ranging from the Time For Climate Justice coalition and Greenpeace to African rural women’s associations – waved placards and marched behind banners calling for a fair climate deal for the world’s poor.

The noise of the march was clearly audible from within the negotiating centre, with many delegates coming to take pictures. Christiana Figueres, the UN's executive secretary for the climate talks, took to a makeshift stage to address the crowd.

Many of the chants on the march started with a single voice crying ‘hello’ and once the crowd responded on mass with their own ‘hello’ they would begin to chant, sing or generally make a racket for justice.

This was really fitting: the march was one enormous call. Now we wait to see if the UN will answer.


Take action

Act now The UK's Chris Huhne will be attending the talks this week. Please ask him act in the interests of the world's poor. Email Huhne now.

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 About the author

Laura Trevelyan

Laura Trevelyan is our climate justice campaign manager

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