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From New York to Santiago de Chile: Navigating the road to climate justice

Posted on 16 October 2019


Photo credits: Scientia and cubicroot from Pixabay

*Update: As of 30 October 2019, the government of Chile has backed out from hosting the COP25, amid continuing people's mobilisations against neoliberalism in the country. Options for a new hosting country are being explored.

It has been some weeks since the Global Climate Strike and yet animated conversations continue to take place around the need for a swift and adequate climate action vis-à-vis the reality of the climate emergency. Climate activism has been reinvigorated, with new, young leaders taking the lead in organizing mass actions against fossil-fuel capitalism. Frontline communities in the global South uphold the principle of climate justice ensuring that it remains a critical part of the movement’s focus.

But while around the world demand for action is growing, commitments of leaders of major economies fall short of expectations. At the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York, no new promises to take stronger climate action were made despite the latest warnings of climate science about increasing global temperatures and more frequent weather extremes. Elite-led governments are sticking to their business-as-usual model, practically waging a war on the Earth’s systems and the future generations.

As we gear up for the 25 th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP 25) in Chile, we need to ensure that peoples’ autonomous actions in the streets for climate justice create strong political pressure to move governments to action, especially developed countries that have gained their wealth from burning fossil fuels.

A youth-led global justice rebellion

Around four million people joined the Global Climate Strike across all continents, many of them students and youth. The action led by Greta Thunberg's Fridays for Future is the largest to date, with demonstrations at more than 5000 locations in 161 countries. It was the third climate strike this year, following similar mass global demonstrations in March and May.

Some of the largest demonstrations were in Germany where a total of 1.4 million people across the country participated in simultaneously held marches. More than 330,000 demonstrated across Australia; 100,000 in the UK; and up to 300,000 in the US. Thousands more took to the streets in Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, and New Zealand.

Significant protests were also held across the South Pacific, including in the Solomon Islands and Fiji. Countries in the Pacific region are among the hardest hit by the acute climate crisis as a result of rapidly rising sea levels.

The protests were directed against the inaction of world governments and their inability to take adequate measures to resolve the crisis, despite increasingly grim warnings from the UN and other agencies that if greenhouse gas emissions are not drastically reduced, at least half the world’s population will face one or more climate-related disasters in the following decade. Many were also disappointed that international climate summits such as the 2015 Paris Agreement have not lived up to the demands of vulnerable frontline communities in the South.

There were efforts to locate the current climate crisis

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