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A Magazine for Sheffield

‘Everyone is needed’ for historic climate protest

Four-day demonstration The Big One aims to bring 100,000 people to London this weekend (21-24 April), with Sheffield groups involved and shared transport available.

Park square banner drop XR 2023
Steph Howlett

Environmental and community groups from Sheffield are calling on people to join what is expected to be the biggest climate protest in history this weekend.

The Big One takes place over a four-day weekend (21-24 April) and will bring together many of the UK’s environmental groups, including local groups like South Yorkshire Climate Alliance, Sheffield Greenpeace, Sheffield Extinction Rebellion, Kids Plant Trees and Sheffield TUC.

South Yorkshire Climate Alliance, one of more than 200 UK organisations supporting the protest, is helping to organise transport from Sheffield to the event, with a few tickets still available on a pay-what-you-can basis, ranging from £10 to £30.

The Big One has been spearheaded by Extinction Rebellion as part of a new ‘mass mobilisation’ strategy that was announced at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Instead of focussing on disruption, the group has been building coalitions with organisations within and beyond the environmental movement with the aim of mobilising thousands to demand practical action instead of climate pledges.

One organisation attending is Better Buses South Yorkshire, which has been campaigning to bring bus services back under public control and create comprehensive and affordable travel which is good for people and planet.

XR outreach at Sharrow Vale market April 2023

XR outreach at Sharrow Vale Market, April 2023.

Jess James

Fran Postlethwaite, convener of Better Buses for South Yorkshire group, said: “I urge people, if they can, make their voices heard by joining us on the streets of London. Public transport is an essential contributor to help us meet the climate emergency, but bus services are in crisis in South Yorkshire and across the UK.

“People need a system that is reliable and affordable so they no longer feel the need for private transport. Politicians must know that many ordinary people care – this is a chance to be heard.”

The four days in London are being billed as “family friendly, accessible and welcoming, creative and engaging” and will offer a diverse programme which includes People’s Pickets outside various government departments, speakers and performers, and workshops.

The four day event has different themes: Friday (21 April) is Unite to Survive, where Westminster will be filled with flags, banners and people; Saturday (22 April) is Earth Day, an enormous, family-friendly march for bio-diversity; Sunday (23 April) is Running Out of Time, where The Big One will co-exist with the London Marathon; and Monday (24 April) is Choose Your Future, where demands will be delivered to parliament.

People are being encouraged to come on their own, with family and friends, or to join a community group. Contrary to previous protests, where many people occupied space until they were arrested, The Big One is prioritising “attendance over arrest” and “relationships over road blocks.”

Ian North, 54, who got involved in Sheffield Extinction Rebellion after watching COP 26 coverage in 2021 said: “I don’t think of myself as a climate activist, just someone who learned how bad the situation was and wanted to do something.

“Even if you’ve never gone to a march before or are not involved with any particular group, I urge you to come along. Everyone is needed.”

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