Civil societies, indigenous communities stage protests at COP25 in Madrid

Hundreds of protesters on Wednesday evening staged a surprise protest at the COP25 conference hall demanding rich countries to step up action towards tackling the climate crisis.

Taking inspiration from a popular South American form of protest known as Cacerolazo, which originated in Chile, the demonstrations took place as ministers headed into the late stages of talks at the United Nations climate conference in Madrid (COP 25).

So far climate talks in Madrid which has entered its second week have produced little to no progress on several key issues such as carbon markets and losses and damages which is financial to help communities recover from increasingly severe disasters.

The demonstrators, collectively representing hundreds of millions of members, expressed outrage that while big polluters and their lobbyists have been given free rein to influence negotiators, civil society’s response is being repressed.

Avishek Shrestha, from Digo Bikas Institute Nepal, believes that developed countries who continue to be heavily invested in the fossil fuel industry, are now actively trying to avoid liability through quick fix carbon markets. 

“We are here to remind governments that climate finance is a crucial pillar in the Paris Agreement and should no longer be sidelined. We are outraged by the fact that some governments, like the US, EU and Australia, continue to avoid their financial responsibility,” said Shrestha.

Taily Terena, from the Terena nation of Brazil, Women & Gender Constituency and the Indigenous People’s Constituency says “the rise of macho fascists from Brazil, Chile, the US, Philippines and other countries have not only eroded their rights but are affecting the lived experiences of indigenous peoples, women, non-binary peoples and people of colour.

Christine Tyler, a young feminist leader attending COP25 highlighted that indigenous leaders were also victims of overt security response, as some of the world’s most critical forest protectors were stripped of their badges & evicted from the conference.  

Jamie Henn, 350 co-founder followed the protest as Police de-badged hundreds of young people, many of which came to the UN climate talks with the hope that national leaders fight for a deal in Madrid that reflects their own unwavering passion to combat the climate crisis head-on.

Meanwhile, negotiations at the UN continued late into the evening, seeking to clarify many of the elements that inspired the protests themselves. Over the last 3 nights, diplomats have been stuck negotiating until 2 am each night, pushing to finalise the elements of a deal that many at the talks fear may not only fail to address the climate crisis but leave those protestors with a future far more dangerous than the unprecedented security response they received today.

This article has been a collaboration between Chris Wright, Leopold Obi and Allan Jay Quesada.