Story Page
Thunberg brings her climate protest to UN climate summit host Madrid
(Story Reissued With Fresh Inputs)
  • 1
  • (605 Words) 
  • Download
  • Download
  • Print
  • Print
   12/7/2019 12:45:00 AM

Madrid, Dec 6 (AFP) Thousands of activists from around the world including teen activist Greta Thunberg hit the streets of Madrid on Friday to demand urgent action on the climate crisis from world leaders attending the COP25 summit in the Spanish capital.

Teen eco-warrior Thunberg -- who refuses to fly because of the carbon emissions involved -- joined the rally after making a nearly three-week journey across the Atlantic by catamaran.

"We would love some action by people in power because people are suffering and dying due to the climate and ecological emergency and we can't wait any longer," the 16-year-old Swede told a news conference held just before the rally got underway.

The march took place in Madrid on the sidelines of the UN climate conference, with a simultaneous rally held 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.

"Without a planet there is no future" and "politicians the earth is dying" were among the signs on display at Madrid's Atocha train station at the start of the five-kilometre (three-mile) route for the Madrid march.

Under the slogan "The world has woken up to the climate emergency", the rally featured a significant number of Chilean groups.

Thunberg, who has become famous for galvanising a generation of youngsters to fight for the environment, had been en route to Chile when the venue was changed, forcing her to hitch a ride back to Europe.

"Climate change affects us all, but also future generations. We have to become aware that the world is heading to its end," Paula Sanchez, a 16-year old from Madrid, told AFP at the march.

Oscar-winning Spanish actor Javier Bardem, a vocal environmental activist, was also expected to be at the protest, which will feature speeches, music and cultural performances.

"2019 has, without doubt, been the year in which people have woken up about the climate," march spokesman Pablo Chamorro told reporters on the eve of the rally.

Estefania Gonzalez, spokeswoman for Civil Society for Climate Action (SCAC) representing more than 150 Chilean and international groups, said the protests gripping Chile over inequality were "directly related to the environmental crisis".

"I come from Chile, a country where an avocado tree has more right to water than a person," she said.

"Today, climate action means social equality, it's not possible to have social equality without environmental equality."

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". (AFP)