December 10, 2018

RELEASE: Youth and frontline community leaders take the mic from Trump’s fossil fuel panel at UN climate talks

Calls for a just transition away from fossil fuels and dirty energy grow despite industry-driven propaganda and environmental rollbacks at the national level

Katowice, Poland — Indigenous and frontline youth and community leaders from the U.S. disrupted an event hosted by the Trump Administration today at the annual U.N. climate talks. Ten minutes into the event, over 100 people in the audience started chanting “Keep It In the Ground,” then stood up and blocked the panel from view. Four representatives from Indigenous, youth, and Global South communities took the microphone and shared stories about the growing movement in the U.S. to stop fossil fuel and uranium extraction and advance a just transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

This is the second year in a row that the U.S. government held an event at the climate talks promoting fossil fuels and nuclear energy as a solution to the climate crisis. This event comes just days after Trump rejected the federal climate report that clearly documents the risk and urgency of the climate crisis in every single part of the U.S.

“There are over 15,000 abandoned uranium mines on the stolen lands of the so-called ‘United States,’ with most of that uranium used for nuclear weapons. Uranium Mining today is just as dirty and radioactive as it has always been, but now nuclear power is being pushed as a clean solution for climate change by the same colonial forces that failed in their attempts of genocide. On my people’s ancestral homelands, we have coal, oil, natural gas, and we have uranium. Diné people are actively making changes in our own communities, stepping up to our own political structures, and demanding that the federal government stop developing fossils fuels, stop allowing radioactive colonialism and transport, and start to clean up the mines and the mess they left. We will no longer allow racism and imperialism to destroy our lands, kill our brothers and sisters, and alter our future.”
~Leona Morgan (Diné, “Navajo”) Diné No Nukes, Indigenous Environmental Network

“Trump’s presence here is a joke. His only priority is ensuring fossil fuel CEOs squeeze every last dollar out of our communities. I remember listening to my mother’s voice over the phone saying that our home in Chennai, India was flooded from a hurricane. The next year we didn’t have water because of a drought. I’ve seen my aunt and uncle breathe in some of the world’s most polluted air in New Delhi. No one should see loved ones suffer from a crisis that can be prevented. The U.S. elite has profited off fossil fuels for decades. It’s time for them to pay up and support to the world transition away from dirty energy.”
– Aneesa Khan, 23, SustainUS youth delegation leader.

“Our communities, whose very survival is most directly impacted by climate change, have become a living red line. Our air and water are being poisoned by fossil fuel extraction, our livelihoods are threatened by floods and drought, our communities are the hardest hit and the least protected in extreme weather events—and our demands for our survival and for the rights of future generations are pushing local, national, and global leaders towards real solutions to the climate, economic, and social crises.”
– José Bravo, Just Transition Alliance, It Takes Roots Delegation

“My mother sacrificed everything when she migrated to the United States from Honduras. I’m suing the U.S. government for delaying action on climate change because I don’t want my mother’s sacrifice to be in vain. The U.S. government is risking my future by continuing to promote fossil fuels while our climate is under threat.Young people are at the forefront of leading solutions to address the climate crises and we won’t back down. We won’t stop fighting.”
– Vic Barrett, 19, youth plaintiff in Juliana v. U.S.

For decades, the U.S. has delayed, obstructed, and weakened progress on international climate action, promoting the agenda of fossil fuel CEO’s over the demands of everyday people. Just this weekend, the U.S. blocked consensus to include mention of the IPCC’s report on 1.5 C at the U.N. climate talks, preventing the groundbreaking findings to be addressed by world leaders. The U.S. has also failed to contribute $2 billion to fill the Green Climate Fund and help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change.

The IPCC report and recent US National Climate Assessment back up the science we’ve known for decades. We must transform our global economy off fossil fuels and dirty energy to clean, renewable energy if we are to avoid the collapse of civilization as we know it. The world has no more than 12 years to reduce climate pollution by at least 45 percent to avoid further damages to our economy, public health, and communities.

Additional quote:
“There is no such thing as clean coal. Coal is deadly from the beginning to the end. They talk about the life cycle of coal, I talk about it as a death march. My father died of black lung, and I am in this struggle with others whose fathers and husbands are dying of Black Lung right now. The Appalachian coal workers in North America either give their lives or their lungs to feed their families. The coal companies make their fortune and they leave their contamination. You can’t get a clean drink of water in the places where coal has been mined. In Appalachia we are not only about transition, but a Just Transition. Creating jobs through renewable energy. The workers and our communities fueled the whole economic revolution. We need to be a part of the new energy solution.” – Teri Blanton, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth


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