Millions of people took to the streets this year to demand climate action. Led by our youth, women, Indigenous Peoples, workers and climate justice movements, all of civil society made our voices heard like never before and awakened the world to the climate emergency.
Now our voices are being silenced. Hundreds of us demonstrated inside the halls of COP25 today in Madrid — not to block progress, but to drive it forward. Our motto was, “Step up, pay up.” 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.
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. 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.
This has never happened before in 25 years of negotiations. 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. They pay us lip service, thanking us for our action, but when the time comes to act, they slam the door in our face while providing a platform to polluters. The UN and countries want to recognize the traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples but chose not to recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is a pattern that takes place around the world, from Chile to the halls of COP25, to every place where local communities and Indigenous Peoples are fighting for their rights and their future.
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.
The people united will never be defeated!
Nathan Thanki (Climate Justice Now!)
Tasneem Essop (CAN International)
Bert de Wel (International Trade Union Confederation)
Bridget Burns (Women & Gender Constituency)
Tom Goldtooth (Indigenous Environmental Network / Advisory Member of the Indigena Minga-Madrid)
Civil Society Organisations (alphabetical) – only names of organisations
Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt & Development
Climate Action Network South Asia
Climate Reality Project
Ecologistas en Acción
Friends of the Earth Bulgaria
Friends of the Earth International
Indigenous Environment Network
Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense
La Ruta del Clima
Oil Change International
Union of Concerned Scientists
Photo by Simon Chambers from ACT Now for Climate Justice