December 12, 2019

What happened in Madrid yesterday

Yesterday, I stood in a loading dock outside the U.N. climate talks in Madrid, and watched as a huge metal door slowly lowered to lock me and hundreds of other people out.

We — climate justice advocates, scientists, youth, women, indigenous leaders, NGO representatives from all over the world — had come together in peaceful protest to sound the alarm, with one voice: The COP25 negotiations are dangerously off track. People’s lives and our planet are in peril. Global North countries must #StepUpPayUp.

Instead of listening to our demands, they pushed us out. Big Polluters stayed in. The exact opposite of what people like you have demanded for years. The exact opposite of what the world most needs right now for climate justice.

Late last night, the U.N. agreed we would be let back in. But the likes of the U.S., EU, Australia, and Canada are still not listening. They’re bullying developing countries. And they’re advancing the interests of Big Polluters over people. We need to make sure they hear our demands loud and clear.

Take action in solidarity: Demand governments listen to the people and prioritize real solutions, not polluters’ profits, at COP25.

Here’s why we had to act yesterday:

Obstructionist governments like the EU, Canada, and Australia are siding with bullies like the U.S. and Big Polluters, trying to ram through measures that would effectively sink the Paris Agreement.

  • Yes, you read that right. These countries are pushing such terrible rules for implementing the Paris Agreement, that they could be worse than no Paris Agreement at all. Here’s how:They’re proposing to create a largely unregulated market free-for-all where polluters can keep extracting, polluting, and poisoning communities with little regulation or accountability, while buying ineffective and unjust offsets around the world.
  • They’re refusing to pay up for loss & damage for countries who’ve done little to cause the climate crisis but are already paying the price.
  • They’re trying to advance policy that stands to protect polluters from being held liable for the damage they’ve caused.

Make no mistake: The Paris Agreement was already nowhere near strong enough. And this would sink the Paris Agreement. And, despite Trump’s recent announcement of official withdrawal, the U.S. is the ringleader. It’s trying to sink the ship even as it’s jumping overboard. Governments like the EU, Canada, and Australia are following its lead. And it’s all to protect the interests of the biggest, most polluting corporations on the planet.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The EU, Canada, and Australia can stop siding with the U.S. Developing countries can stand up and stop these dangerous measures from going through. But they need to hear from you — the people around the world outside of these talks.

Act now: Raise your voice to call out the U.S., EU, Australia, and Canada, and advance real solutions at COP25.

You may have seen coverage that the climate talks are already coming to a close. But we know firsthand, from our decades of organizing at U.N. treaty talks, that lots can change in the final 24 hours — as long as we keep up the pressure.

There’s no doubt: Yesterday was heavy. We raised our voices in peaceful protest. We banged on mugs and metal water bottles to raise the alarm for the crisis we face. It was a powerful echo of solidarity with our allies demanding justice in Latin America, for whom “cacerolazos” like this are part of a long tradition of peaceful protest.

In response, the people leading us, including indigenous youth who have fought hard and journeyed long to be here, were rounded up, pushed and shoved. We were kicked out.

But we came back today, because we know this isn’t over… and because we know we’re not here alone. We’re here on behalf of millions of people around the world who can’t be in the room. They’re counting on governments to address this climate crisis. To cut carbon emissions. To protect people’s lives and the planet we call home. Will you join us in raising your voice?

Thank you for all you do to build a better world.

Photo: Hanae Takahashi, Friends of the Earth Japan.

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