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Creatives join forcesto protest climate change

by Susanna Joseph

A week after possibly the biggest mass protest ever mobilised in the name of the climate crisis, Trafalgar Square was home once again today to those who want action.

This time, the activists of Global Strike for Climate were joined by the speakers of Rally for the Imagination, who lobbied their words to those working in creative industries, hoping to encourage them to do their bit in the fight against climate change. The event was organised jointly by Culture Declares Emergency, Music Declares Emergency and Architects Declare Emergency. Representatives from all kinds of creative backgrounds stood beneath Nelson’s Column and put forward their cases, imploring those in artistic fields to acknowledge and harness the power that creatives have in turning the tide of public opinion in this struggle.

Among the speakers was environmental lawyer Fahana Yamin, who gave an impassioned reading from Letters to the Earth, a collection of writings gathered by Culture Declares Emergency from members of the British public and also cultural figures like Yoko Ono, Kate Tempest and Caroline Lucas MP, due to be published in November. “I want to apologise for the mess we humans have made. In just a few hundred years, we have burned down your forests, poisoned your waters, acidified the oceans, melted the ice caps, and managed to upset the delicate balance of the entire atmosphere. But here is the good news; we’ve already worked out that you are 4.6 billion years old. We’ve gone to the moon and Mars and sent messages deep into the universe to tell everyone about life on Earth. And something magical is happening too – millions of ordinary people, especially our children, are rebelling against the old ways of thinking. Ways that lead humanity to death, destruction, and the glorification of the domination of nature.”

Musicians Sam Lee and Jarvis Smith led the protest in Song, and poet Rakaya Fetuga recited a call to action that spoke of a better tomorrow, if we prepare for it today. Speeches by the likes of architect Michael Pawlyn and Suzi Martineau from the charity TreeSisters were intersected by the voices of some the young people who had missed school to be there, and who’s words were perhaps the most rousing of all.

Creatives in the crowd seemed pleased to see steps being taken in their fields. “Every industry is complicit in climate change in some way,” said Fahal and Annie, who both work in fashion. “A lot of cultural industries are greenwashing and still taking money from Big Oil, so I think it’s important to address those issues.”

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