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London communities at LCAW: from local action to global impact

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Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

London’s long history tells a global story. Of migration and conquest. Of 2000 years of battling floods, fires, hunger, plagues and armed invasions. A history of invention and resilience. Now with more than eight million inhabitants and 300 languages spoken, London is very much a global city. In its intense diversity – one in three Londoners is born overseas – London is a microcosm of the world. It’s also a great place to find solutions.

In imagining London’s first-ever climate action week, we wanted our city’s history and the diversity of our communities reflected in the search for solutions. We didn’t want the agenda to be dry, abstract and policy-led, but connect with the real dilemmas our city faces. Climate change is a challenge that will confront every Londoner and require every Londoner to respond. To succeed, we have to have an education and engagement process that unleashes ideas and builds the social consensus needed for deep change to occur.

Our vision was to engage and profile London’s leading global and national institutions involved in climate action, but equally to go beyond the usual suspects and connect the climate change agenda with the lives of Londoners themselves. Given the international links so many of us have, engaging Londoners means engaging the world.

The fruits of the efforts of the past few months have been remarkable. Although this is only a start, we now have a broad spectrum of London’s communities engaged in London Climate Action Week ranging from faith, arts and culture, to sports, schools, film, media and entertainment. These complement the more traditional groups active on climate change and sustainability issues from the policy, finance, business and advocacy communities.

Some highlights from the week are in order: Tuesday 2nd July will see the premier of Benjamin Britten’s opera Noye’s Fludde by the English National Opera, featuring school children from Tower Hamlets and a climate and flood-themed cross-cultural community engagement programme. Young people feature strongly throughout with a special climate education resource for all of London’s schools prepared collaboratively by the World’s Largest Classroom, London Sustainable Schools Forum and GLOBE International.

Young Londoners and sustainable development will be the focus of a key event on 4th July evening launching the results of a recent London-wide survey. The emphasis on student citizenship will take a practical turn on Friday 5th July with London’s first-ever Student-MP Climate Surgeries – organised by GLOBE International as a fresh take on #FridaysForFuture, bringing the political voice of young people directly to MPs on their traditional constituency surgery day.

Saturday 6th July will mark London’s first Green Shabbat with support of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and leadership of Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg from Eco-Synagogue. The Shabbat will close on Saturday night with a midnight Interfaith Climate Night Walk through London’s oldest boroughs bringing the faith, health and wellness communities together in a reflection on past and modern climate challenges, including tackling air pollution, ending in the early hours of Sunday 7th July at Southwark Cathedral.

With both Wimbledon and the World Cricket Cup taking place during LCAW, both sports will have an opportunity to showcase their commitment to climate action.

London’s international linkages will be highlighted with several prominent South Asian jurists, lawyers, activists and community leaders engaged in numerous events throughout the week.

London’s film and entertainment industry is not typically thought of as belonging to the climate change cluster, but that will soon change through the efforts of bodies such as Film London and companies like Greenshoot, which promote environmentally responsible film production. Film London will be hosting a special event on Green Screen on 5th July. The sustainability efforts of the broader London-based creative industries will be celebrated at The Creative Green Awards, organised by Julie’s Bicycle on 1st July in the evening. Those looking for light relief at the end of a truly energising week will be able to attend a special transatlantic Climate Comedy night at Theatre Deli in Burgess Park on Saturday 6th July.

The final ‘act’ of London Climate Action Week will appropriately feature an artist, Olafur Eliasson, who has made his name highlighting the climate challenge. The iconic Tate Modern will host a retrospective of his work from July onwards. On the evening of Monday 8th July Eliasson will close LCAW with a special talk on Art in Real Life: Addressing the Sustainability Challenge in the Tate's Turbine Hall.

With the enthusiasm and creativity already unleashed for London's inaugural climate action week from so many diverse communities, there's good reason to be optimistic. Most events are free and tickets sales are picking up. Please help get the word out and come along and support the many amazing communities involved in LCAW 2019!