Dec 13, 2018
As world leaders continue to negotiate a global game plan for climate action on the final day of the COP24 summit in Katowice, Poland, more than 150 representatives from movements across the globe came together for a sit-in to demand that governments "stand with people, not polluters" and "commit to action in line with the urgency of the crisis."
\u201cCountries are failing to advance real solutions at UN climate talks, so movements from around the world are convening on the final day of COP24 to hold a sit-in, demand climate justice, and ask people and countries, \u201cwhich side are you on?\u201d #COP24 #peoplesdemands #climatejustice\u201d— WEDO (@WEDO) 1544793143
The purpose of the "corporate-captured U.N. climate talks," as the activists have called them, is to write a rulebook for the 2015 Paris agreement--supported by every nation on Earth except the United States, thanks to President Donald Trump's vow to withdraw from it. The accord aims to limit global warming within this century to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels.
"Governments must take responsibility and provide real leadership to halt climate breakdown. They are failing completely to do so, and their failures are on full display here at COP24," charges a statement from the sit-in organizers. "Inside these halls, we are calling on the rich polluting countries to stop obstructing progress and to support the just transition we need."
Demanding "climate justice and a world under 1.5oC of warming," and accusing decisions-makers of sticking to "business as usual," the activists on Friday held up massive banners that read, "stand with people, not polluters," "system change, not climate change," and "which side are you on?"
\u201cThe people united, will never be defeated! In the last 2 weeks of the climate negotiations we have raised our voices, but our decisions-makers continue business as usual. So today we are occupying space at the UN, you will hear us, and you have to listen to us. #peoplesdemands\u201d— Climate Action Network International (CAN) (@Climate Action Network International (CAN)) 1544793054
\u201cWe've just occupied the halls of #COP24 to demand climate action, to demand #climatejustice, to demand #genderjustice, to kick the polluters out of this COP and demand that the people are let in \u270a #PollutersOutPeopleIn\u201d— Caroline Rance (@Caroline Rance) 1544793526
\u201cWhich side are you on?\nStand with People not Polluters! \nSystem Change, not Climate Change!\n\nMass civil society protest at #COP24 asks the important questions, and demands #climatejusticenow\u201d— Mary Church (@Mary Church) 1544797323
The People's Demands, drafted with input from southern movements and climate justice groups worldwide, are:
- Keep fossil fuels in the ground;
- Reject false solutions that are displacing real, people-first solutions to the climate crisis;
- Advance real solutions that are just, feasible, and essential;
- Honor climate finance obligations to developing countries;
- End corporate interference in and capture of the climate talks; and
- Developed countries must honor their "Fair Shares" for largely fueling this crisis.
Friday also saw U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres--who warned on Wednesday that "it would be suicidal" to conclude COP24 without a bold strategy to limit global warming--return to Poland "to add support for a successful outcome," and youth activists striking in solidarity with 15-year-old Swedish climate advocate Greta Thunberg.
\u201cWow -- local Polish students on #ClimateStrike right in the middle of the UN #COP24 climate talks, speaking truth to power. Watch the action here\u201d— Avaaz (@Avaaz) 1544798860
Poland, the global summit's host country, began circulating a draft of the Paris accord's rulebook on Wednesday and, according to BBC News, negotiators are "preparing to work well past the official close of the conference on Friday evening." Activists have expressed concern that in its current form, it won't ensure accountability for efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions in hopes of curbing global warming.
A key U.N. report released in October--which triggered a diplomatic standoff at the talks between a few oil-exporting nations, including the United States, and the rest of the world--warned that the international community must take immediate and unprecedented action to avert climate catastrophe.
COP24 comes amid worldwide protests demanding dramatic climate action in light of record-breaking levels of carbon emissions, "off the charts" rates of melting ice, and rapidly increasing concerns about extreme weather and species extinction. As one climate scientist concluded in Poland on Thursday, "I've worked on this for 30 years and I've never been as worried as I am today."
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