Thousands rally demanding action on climate crisis - GulfToday

Thousands rally demanding action on climate crisis


Children attend a Fridays for Future demonstration demanding action on climate crisis in Rinkeby, Sweden, on Friday. Agence France-Presse

Thousands of activists from around the globe simultaneously hit the streets of Madrid and Santiago on Friday to demand urgent action on the climate crisis from world leaders attending the COP25 summit.

The main march took place in Madrid on the sidelines of the UN climate conference, with a simultaneous rally in the Chilean capital, which had been due to host the 12-day gathering but was forced to pull out due to deadly anti-government protests.

The COP25 summit opened on Monday with a stark warning from the UN about the “utterly inadequate” efforts of the world’s major economies to curb carbon pollution, with protesters due to deliver their own message when the march begins at 1700 GMT.

Under the slogan “The world has woken up to the climate emergency,” tens of thousands of activists joined the 5km march from Madrid’s Atocha train station which featured a significant number of Chilean groups.

Oscar-winning Spanish actor Javier Bardem, a vocal environmental activist, also attended the protest, which featured speeches, music and cultural performances.

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, said on the eve of the rally that he supported “young people’s protests at government’s inaction over the climate crisis.” “Taking care of our planet, is a matter of looking after our own home,” he added in a tweet.

“We know it will be massive, we hope there will be hundreds of thousands of people in the street demanding urgent action,” march spokesman Pablo Chamorro told reporters earlier.

“2019 has, without doubt, been the year in which people have woken up about the climate.” Friday’s march is going to be “an important global moment,” Estefania Gonzalez, spokeswoman for Civil Society for climate Action (SCAC) representing more than 150 Chilean and international groups had said before the rallies.

“I come from Chile, a country where an avocado tree has more right to water than a person,” she told reporters.

The furious protests gripping Chile over social and economic inequality were “directly related to the environmental crisis,” she said of the most severe wave of unrest since Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship ended nearly 30 years ago.

“Today, climate action means social equality, it’s not possible to have social equality without environmental equality,” she said.

SCAC has been the driving force behind a week-long Social Summit for climate Action, which begins on Saturday and runs parallel to the COP25, involving hundreds of events, lectures and workshops.

Indigenous groups will also have a visible presence, with Juan Antonio Correa of the Minga Indigena collective saying their lands and peoples were “the first to be affected by climate change.” “Our traditional and historic practices and the relationship that indigenous people have with Mother Earth is an alternative and a way in which modern society can face up to the climate crisis,” he said.

In their manifesto, groups involved in the march address a clear message to the decision-makers from the nearly 200 countries attending the UN summit. “We demand that governments participating in COP25 recognise the current climate inaction and state that the insufficient ambition of their agreements will lead the planet to a disastrous global warming scenario,” they wrote.

Addressing the nations that signed the 2015 Paris Agreement, they said it was “irresponsible” that just a year before the treaty becomes operational, there was still no “emissions reduction plan that is compatible with scientific estimates.” Financial institutions have channeled $745 billion over the past three years into companies planning new coal-fired power plants, according to a report by environmental groups, who are urging global banks to stop financing the sector.

The report’s release comes as world leaders met this week in Madrid for a 12-day UN climate summit, where they are expected to hammer out some of the details of the 2015 Paris agreement.

They face increasing pressure to step up their commitments on fossil fuel reduction after a major UN report last year warned global warming must be capped at 1.5°C and the global economy must be “carbon neutral” by 2050 to stay under that threshold.

Agence France-Presse

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