Friends in Geneva from Collectif Breakfree Suisse organised the Marche Pour Le Climat in response to the IPCC report on 1.5C putting banks on notice that they need to divest and stop financing fossil fuel projects. During the week I got more excited as I started to get emails about the march and invitations to banner painting parties in various cities across Switzerland.
I arrived at the meeting point for the march just a few minutes before the start – the square was packed! I could see neither the start nor the end of the march – just people of all ages, as well many colourful, creative and sometimes funny banners and placards.
Finally my friend and I made our way to the front to hear the speeches – there was an inspiring speech from an indigenous person from the Ecuadorian Amazon speaking about the negative impact that oil extraction has on his community and the climate. He made it clear that Credit Suisse as financier was complicit.
Then we started marching with 7000 others to visit the Geneva branch of the Swiss National Bank and Credit Suisse, a major funder of fossil fuel projects including Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. At both stops activists taped the title page of the IPCC 1.5C summary report to the entrances to make sure bank officials are aware of the results. Considering the Swiss National Bank is prohibited from investing in firms that contribute to systematic and severe environmental damage, it is about time that they understood what the science is telling us. If both want to turn a profit in the future then they should recognise that it is socially, environmentally & economically smart to invest in renewables, rather than fossil fuels.
After the march I helped my friends in Geneva with social media work in English and German followed by celebrating the successful action and the high turnout – in little Switzerland it is likely the largest action on climate ever! Being part of a lively and effective action makes me believe a little bit more that we can take advantage of the small window of opportunity we have to keep warming below 1.5C.