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Wave of protests in Madrid to pile pressure on climate talks

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World rulers gathered in the Spanish capital for the Cop25 talks. Hope for radical action on climate change lies with the hundreds of thousands who protested outside, writes?Sarah Bates
Issue 2684
Part of the huge march in Madrid
Part of the huge march in Madrid (Pic: Collin Rees/Twitter)

The streets of Madrid were filled with defiant scenes last week as thousands of climate campaigners protested outside United Nations (UN) climate talks.

An estimated 500,000 people took to the streets of the Spanish capital to demand that world leaders take the climate emergency seriously.

The mobilisation was part of the school strikes movement and was timed to coincide with the UN Cop25 climate talks taking place nearby.

World leaders are floating on a sea of climate lies
World leaders are floating on a sea of climate lies
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Strike figurehead Greta Thunberg attended the talks last week after travelling from South America on a catamaran. She told activists, “The climate crisis is still being ignored by those in power, and we cannot go on like this.

“We would love some action from the people in power.

“People are suffering and dying from the climate ecological emergency, and we cannot wait any longer.”

It’s estimated around 25,000 officials from 200 countries are ­attending the Cop25.

The talks are the last round before the all-important talks in Glasgow in 2020, when the Paris Agreements on limiting temperature rises come into effect.


On Monday Extinction Rebellion activists joined delegates from Minga—the indigenous people’s alternative to Cop—to block entrances to the UN climate talks.

People locked onto a yellow boat “in an act of solidarity to demand climate justice now for the Amazonia’s indigenous people, the forest

guardians defending the world’s most biodiverse region”.

Hundreds of people also blocked a central shopping street in Madrid last Saturday. Organised by Extinction Rebellion, the activists danced to the Bee Gees to draw attention to the climate crisis.

Protester Joan said, “We’ve tried all the normal safe ways—petitions, marches, writing letters to the politicians, so now all we can do is civil disobedience.”

Vanessa Nakate, a climate striker from Uganda, spoke alongside Thunberg at a press conference. “People have been dying, people have been left homeless and children have been left as orphans,” she said.

“People are already dying as a result of this crisis. So it is not a matter of the future, it is a matter of now.”

Thunberg urged everyone to keep fighting for real change, arguing that democracy “goes on all the time, not only on election day”.

“If, for example, the population of Sweden right now would say, ‘We have had enough,’ and start ­protesting, then the government could fall very easily,” she said.

“Or it could be forced to accept the will of the people and fundamentally change their policies.”

As this decade draws to a close, it is likely to be the hottest one by every measure.

Thunberg is right to say we can’t wait for politicians to draw up

carefully negotiated agreements—it is too late for that.

Urgent, radical action for our planet and our future has to happen now—and it is going to take a mass movement to deliver it.

Solidarity with Chile unrest

The talks were originally supposed to be held in Chile, but large-scale unrest throughout the South American country prompted the government to move Cop25 to Madrid. In London, climate justice campaigners and Chilean activists held a solidarity protest outside the Chilean embassy last week.

It was called by the Campaign Against Climate Change, War on Want, UK Schools Climate Network, Biofuelwatch, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, Medact and Chilean Assembly in London.

Oceans are heating up at alarming rate

The world’s oceans are rapidly running out of oxygen and heating at an alarming rate, a new report has confirmed.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released the research at the Cop25 climate talks in Madrid.

It said that the volume of water completely depleted of oxygen had quadrupled since the 1960s.

IUCN acting director general Dr Grethel Aguilar said, “The scale of damage climate change is wreaking upon the oceans comes into stark focus.

“As the warming ocean loses oxygen, the delicate balance of marine life is thrown into disarray.”

Researchers said ocean warming from burning fossil fuels and excessive growth of algae was to blame.

XR activists take action in election

Extinction Rebellion activists were piling the pressure on political parties to commit to its three demands ahead of this Thursday’s general election.

In one action rebels, dressed as bees and targeted each party’s campaign bus.

They made the case for an approach to the climate emergency that is “bee-yond politics”.

At another, a “bikes against bulldozers” protest saw a mass of cyclists block roads and head towards Heathrow Airport in west London.

It was organised to show opposition to airport expansion.

And on Monday protesters attached themselves to breeze blocks glued to roads to demand action on deadly levels of air pollution in London.

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