The Peoples March: Jeff Buhse

The Global March for the Climate on 10 December 2014. Photo: LWF/Sean Hawkey
The Global March for the Climate on 10 December 2014. Photo: LWF/Sean Hawkey

By Jeff Buhse, LWF Youth Delegate (COP20)

December 10th saw Lima play host to Latin America's largest climate march in history. With over 15,000 participants, people from all walks of life were represented. The LWF delegation to COP 20 marched strong with our allies from ACT Alliance where we toted Fast For the Climate t-shirts and banners and chanted for "climate justice now". "The Climate March" (La Marcha Pour el Clima) was an event organized by The People's Summit, a gathering of civil society organizations outside of the COP meetings to push negotiators within the conference to come to an effective agreement.

This was my first experience being a part of a protest march, and it was incredible! There were so many different sorts of people—faith-based organizations, local Peruvians and people from all around the world, marching bands, aboriginals in traditional garb, drums, loud speakers, singing, chanting, and everything else that one would expect to see in a protest march. What was especially amazing to me was that even with so many people, everyone remained calm and orderly, the mood was incredibly joyful yet you could feel the sense of determination amongst the crowds to have their voice heard and to make a difference for our planet (and its inhabitants).

I have often felt that it is very difficult to make a difference, especially in a large, political conference such as COP and this same feeling of inability to influence change in the greater scheme of things has often followed me to a number of things I do. What difference can one person make? What this march has really helped remind me of is that if we just work together, we can do anything. The traffic in Lima is crazier than anything I have previously experienced (in a city of 12 million people, this is to be expected), but when our procession of marchers moved along, traffic stopped; we forced the status quo to change their ordinary routine. This is the whole idea behind the climate justice movement - as Christians, we have a responsibility to ensure the poor and vulnerable are treated justly. As time goes on, the disparity between rich and poor is getting larger and it is becoming more clear that what we have been doing is not working. Climate justice requires all of us to connect and work together for moral and ethical reasons to ensure the health and wellness of one another and our planet.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author, and not necessarily representative of Lutheran World Federation policy.