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Outrage as UN Climate Talks Kick Out Civil Society, Not the Polluters

As we enter a decade that will define all the ones after it, we need to stand together against fossil fuel companies and the governments that prop them up—at the UNFCCC and everywhere.

The statement highlighted that this had never happened before in 25 years of negotiations, but yet, there “could be no better symbol of this crisis we face. People around the world are crying out for justice, and fighting oppression, while those in power attempt to shut us out.” (Photo: Theo C. Mouze via Twitter)

The statement highlighted that this had never happened before in 25 years of negotiations, but yet, there “could be no better symbol of this crisis we face. People around the world are crying out for justice, and fighting oppression, while those in power attempt to shut us out.” (Photo: Theo C. Mouze via Twitter)

Two days ago, I blogged calling for the Polluters to be kicked out of the UN climate process.

Two days later, and what has the UN done? It has kicked the people out—and not the polluters.

This morning, youth activists from over a dozen countries stormed the stage at a COP25 plenary session to demand real climate action. They occupied the stage chanting “We are unstoppable, another world is possible.”

The inspiring action was followed by a disruptive action in the afternoon when 320 members of civil society organized a cacerolazo action banging metal cups and utensils before the plenary session where UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was to give a speech. The people represented a broad coalition of young people, indigenous people, frontline communities, women and gender activists and trade unionists. They called on rich countries to “Step Up, Pay Up.” The protest was interrupted when several security officials violently struggled to take a banner from a protester. 

Oil Change International was there to witness the events:

The reason for the protest was clear: It was a message to the rich industrialized countries who refuse to meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement and human rights law to provide finance to support communities suffering from increasingly severe disasters.

It was a message to the corporate polluters, who roam these halls attempting to profit from the world’s suffering with their false solutions to climate change rather than making a transition away from a fossil fuel economy and paying for the damage they’ve done.

As Earther reported: The reason for the protest are 25-years of futility, broken promises, and negligence” during the climate process. “And people are sick of it.”

In response, the authorities, rather than listening to peoples’ concerns, kicked hundreds of delegates out and banned them from reentering the conference.

Twitter rightly exploded into outrage:

Many civil society organizations, including Oil Change International, issued a statement attacking the UN’s “unprecedented crackdown on dissent.”

The statement said: “Instead of kicking out these polluters, the UNFCCC 25th Conferences of the Parties (COP25) kicked out the people. Instead of listening to our voices, they attempted to silence us. We were pushed, bullied, and touched without our consent. We were driven out of the negotiating halls, told that we can take our action outside as they raised an enormous metal door and herded us out.”

It continued: “We weren’t advised to the intentions of the UN security to take our badges. We stood out in the cold, many without our jackets and coats as we later watched the enormous metal door lock us out in the cold. An Indigenous woman was not allowed to go back inside to feed her baby.

The statement highlighted that this had never happened before in 25 years of negotiations, but yet, there “could be no better symbol of this crisis we face. People around the world are crying out for justice, and fighting oppression, while those in power attempt to shut us out.”

The statement finished by saying “We will not back down. We demand full access for civil society, the people of the world, to these negotiations and all international processes. We demand that our voices be heard.”

As Angela Valenzuela, a student climate striker from Chile who took part in the actions today, said, “From Santiago to Madrid, the world is waking up to the climate crisis!”

“We say enough. We no longer support the systems that drive the climate crisis. We will continue to rise against governments that don’t represent us, and that prioritize profit over the wellbeing of its people and climate.”

As we enter a decade that will define all the ones after it, we need to stand together against fossil fuel companies and the governments that prop them up—at the UNFCCC and everywhere.

Andy Rowell

https://admin.commondreams.org/author/andy-rowell

Andy Rowell is a staff blogger for Oil Change International in addition to working as a freelance writer and investigative journalist who specializes in environmental, health and lobbying issues. Follow him on Twitter: @andy_rowell

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