Thursday, November 21, 2013

Walkouts and Hunger Strikes Draw Attention to Inaction at COP 19

This year's climate negotiations in Warsaw are being defined by what is not getting done as to opposed what is being achieved. Many are despondent over the lack of progress while others are apoplectic. While some have decided to launch hunger strikes in protest others simply walked out.

First the Philippine's climate delegate Yeb Saño announced that he had embarked on a hunger strike to protest inaction at COP 19 then others at the conference joined him. Now more than one thousand people around the world have formally declared that they are also fasting for climate justice.

One of the hunger strikers, Wael Hmaidan, international director of the Climate Action Network has not eaten in 10 days. “It is not hard at all to fast completely, when you are driven by passion for a cause,” Hmaidan said. Click here to see his 52-page list of demands [PDF]. As Hmaidan wrote, “there is no political will" at COP 19.

The ongoing rift between rich and poor countries has only grown. Member states like the US, Canada and Australia have refused to even consider talks that would have set-up a separate UN committee to handle the issue of loss and damages due to climate change. Thanks to this despicable cabal, we may not see action on the issue until 2015 at the earliest.

In protest the G77, which is composed of the poorest countries in the world, along with China walked out of the UN climate negotiations early Wednesday morning.

Environmental groups also walked out of the climate summit. Hundreds of people from dozens of environmental groups and movements from all around the world have voluntarily withdrawn from the talks

In a joint statement, group leaders explained that they were walking out so that they could put their time to better use "mobilizing people to push our governments to take leadership for serious climate action.” These protest do not take issue with the COP process their anger was directed at member states who are thwarting progress. They sated that they were not walking away from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process, and they promised to return for COP20 in Lima, Peru, in 2014.

The sad truth is that as long as the fossil fuel companies hold such sway over the governments in the US, Canada, and Australia, we will never see a climate deal.

All around the world hundreds of candlelight vigils have been scheduled to support climate justice for the Philippines.

Vigils, hunger strikes and walkouts are methods of last resort. This is what the climate talks have come to, the people are powerless and the fossil fuel industry is allowed to protect its agenda. Yet again it appears that this year's COP have allowed the greedy interests of the few outweigh the needs of the many.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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