You sit here year after year claiming to work toward solutions while around the world real human beings lose their homes, their livelihoods, and their lives in this emergency. This process benefits a greedy few and ignores the many who know how to live in harmony with this planet.
The united science shows we need deep emissions cuts starting NOW and deepening each year. We must go beyond zero and transition into a new world defined by compassion, cooperation, and equity.
Instead, the polluters propose to keep polluting and plundering in the same way they have for centuries. But now they propose to “offset” these offenses with approaches that harm indigenous communities — the very people who hold many of the solutions.
Entire communities are being wiped out. Entire countries are at risk of becoming uninhabitable. And you are talking about prolonging our dependency on fossil fuels, instead of supporting those who have done nothing to cause this crisis but who are already suffering.
People often apologize to me – for my generation having to pick up the pieces as this planet is torn apart. But a few measly, mumbled words are not enough. It is not enough to talk about the climate emergency. Only a profound and equitable transformation is enough. Only then will the apology be accepted. System change not climate change!Speech delivered by Zoe Ernst from College of the Atlantic and Earth in Brackets
At opening and closing plenaries, and on a few other rare occasions during the plethora of negotiation sessions under the UNFCCC, governments are forced to listen to the views of observer organisations. For two minutes (or in the case of the Environmental NGO constituency, 2×1 minute) civil society gets to present their views. Here is the statement of the climate justice constituency, made by Felipe Fontecilla, a Chilean student currently studying at the College of the Atlantic.
It is said that politics is the art of the possible. But these negotiations are not about what’s possible. They are about what power finds acceptable.
Is it acceptable that while the water runs out in Chennai, and while people in Mozambique struggle to rebuild their devastated communities, rich people and nations are busy reinforcing their borders and safe-houses?
Is it acceptable that poor countries must pay for the losses and damages that have been imposed on them, while also being asked to pay for technologies and plans to cut their emissions?
Is it acceptable that with one hand you sign declarations of emergency and with the other give permission for further extraction?
Is it acceptable that while our home burns to the ground, you say the very arsonists who lit the match are also the firefighters who will save us?
Even as the flames engulf us, polluting industries are literally busy pouring fuel on the fire. But you know this – many of you are helping them with subsidies! And here you tell us there’s no way conflicts of interest can be addressed…
Your broken promises and delayed action, from Kyoto to Cancun, have got us into this mess. Now, we need radical change to our economic system. But you offer dangerous distractions like offsetting and market mechanisms – trading everything under the sun and resulting in nothing. We need protection for people; you offer the persecution and criminalisation of environmental defenders.
If you truly welcomed the science of the IPCC, we would see it in your NDCs, in your laws, in the balance sheets of your budgets. Instead, you applaud a report today and ignore its implications for the rest of your tenure.
People around the world are rising up because what this process considers acceptable is fundamentally unacceptable to us.