Armistice Day 2020 – Early this morning a UK military veteran, and an NHS nurse of more than 30 years took part in an unauthorised ceremony at the Cenotaph.
In protest at government inaction over the climate and ecological crisis, and in recognition that climate change will inevitably lead to war, they placed a wreath of poppies on the monument, decorated with the words “Climate change means war – Act Now”.
Donald Bell comes from a military family and served four tours in Northern Ireland in the seventies, losing several friends and comrades there. He was accompanied by Annie who has been an NHS nurse for more than 30 years and cares for patients with heart and lung conditions. Together in silence they placed the wreath on the Cenotaph and bore witness, while two other helpers attached a large banner to the railings with the slogan “Honour Their Sacrifice, Climate Change Means War”.
Interviewed about the action afterwards, Donald brought attention to a Ministry of Defence research document published recently that admits to a “growing recognition that climate change may aggravate existing threats to international peace and security”.
Annie spoke about her life devoted to caring for and preventing the suffering of fellow humans, and saw this action as an important aspect of that calling, knowing that conflict is already growing around the world over land, food supplies and water supplies, and climate change will only drive further suffering.
Earlier this year, the government Committee On Climate Change reported that the government had only met two of 31 ‘milestones’, and only four of 21 ‘indicators’ in its long-term commitment towards zero emissions.
Today’s protest, organised by Extinction Rebellion activists, was a reminder of the shortcomings of our leaders and the inevitability of future wars in the face of inaction.