Climate Emergency overnight vigil

Lighting the candles for the Climate Emergency message outside St Martin-in-the-Fields

ImageThe all-night Climate Emergency Vigil started on the night of Saturday May 15th, just over a week after the election, with a Candlelit Procession down Whitehall from St Martin-in-the-Fields church, Trafalgar Square.

A crowd had assembled from 11.00 pm outside the church where "Climate SOS" was spelled out in candles, and numerous more candles were lit and placed in jars while flags and placards were distributed.  Meanwhile inside the church itself a service organised by Christian Ecology was being held - there was a great turnout for it with nearly 100 attending, to listen to the Rev. Chris Brice, Social Justice advisor for London diocese and Mark Dowd from 'Operation Noah'.

At 12.00 midnight the candle-bearing masses streamed off past the great pillared facade of St Martin's behind the campaign's 7 foot square globe-in-a-greenhouse, the  CCC banner and another banner held by a long row of vigil-goers spelling out "Climate Emergency". With candle-lights bobbing and flags waving the Procession made its way down Whitehall, past Downing Street with newly re-occupied No. 10 to finish at 'Old Palace Yard' just opposite the Houses of Parliament. Here the crowd assembled around the statue of George V to be rewarded by a surprise appearance and inspiring speech from John McDonnell MP (whose constituency includes the village that had been threatened by the proposed 3rd Heathrow runway).

Photo galleries:

Jack Kelly Steve Merrick


More speeches followed from Alex Farrow from the UKYCC, Suzanne Dhaliwal and Melina Laboucan-Massimo from the Tar Sands campaign, Becky Luff from The Spartans, Phil Thornhill as campaign coordinator, Mark Dowd from Operation Noah, Peter Deane from Biofuelwatch, Suzanne Jeffery on 'a million climate jobs' , Chris from the Democracy Village and Duncan Law on behalf of Transition Towns - all admirably brief (!) and interpersed with musical interludes courtesy of Peter Deane, Chris Bluemel, Tony Black et al...   

But the fun part was yet to come....


the night was action-packed with never a dull moment. Activities kicked off with "Join the Mutiny" speed debating, followed by 'Poetry Time' (Helen Moore, Niall McDevitt, Tim Padmore) then the disturbingly moving "Funeral for extinct species" (Feral Theatre), John Hogget's "Ritual of despair and empowerment" and  a Climate Change pub-style quiz organised by Jonathan Whittaker. Ongoing through the night meanwhile was Luke Smith's bicycle powered photographic " messages for the new prime minister", Jonathan Whittaker's Mural-making, Tim Padmore's "The Plinth" and "Poems for the new Prime Minister", Luke Smith's bicycle powered printer printing out messages to the Prime Minister written on a chalkboard, and a recycled material craft session. Altogether there was a lively yet laid back atmosphere where people manged to forget that the normal state for that hour is unconsciousness...!  Between the hours of one and five we created our own unique, slightly surreal but inspirational, space... while keeping alight the flame for action for the climate emergency...


At the Lambeth Methodist Mission, meanwhile, faith groups enjoyed a refelective overnight session of prayers, music, singing and discussion.

Finally dawn brought a tremendous finale to the night with Letty Stott unleashing the deep, powerful and moving tones of the alphorn - a call for the dawn of a zero carbon era which echoed off the Houses of Parliament and around Westminster. After this unique and inspirational moment the still-quite numerous crowd trooped off over Lambeth Bridge to St Jude's Community Hall for a communal breakfast... until awareness of the lack of sleep began finally to penetrate and folk began to disperse homewards to sleep at last...

See promotional video here:

 See Map for event here:

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Timetable of event:

11.00 pm   Assemble outside St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square. Service inside the church from 11.00 pm organised by Christian Ecology Link.
12.00 midnight  Candlelit Procession for the Climate down Whitehall.

12.30 - 5.00 am  Overnight Vigil at Old Palace Yard, outside Parliament. 'Art and Empowerment' events through the night. Detailed timetable here.

5.00 am 'Zero Carbon' Dawn - Laetitia Stott, Guildhall music student will play an inspirational 'Call to action,' including a serenade on an Alphorn, calling across the city for a Zero Carbon Dawn.

6.00 am Climate 'Vigil-istas' communal breakfast in St Jude's Community Centre.