Irish students strike in solidarity with activists inside COP25

Published by Shamim Malekmian on

December 13th, 2019

Youth activists are currently holding their weekly climate strike inside the UN climate talks in Madrid to highlight the slow progress in setting more ambitious climate targets.

As the conference draws to a close this week, negotiators are clamouring to find common ground to ensure emisisons targets move in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Environmental activists have criticised the pace of the talks, arguing that COP25 has failed to exemplify the anger and urgency reflected in the youth and indigenous climate movements.

Frustration at the lack of progress boiled over on Wednesday as activists among the non-governmental observers granted access to COP25 held a protest inside the conference arena.

About 200 climate campaigners, including indigenous activists and students from the Fridays for Future (FFF) movement, were forcefully removed by UN security and then barred from reentry.

According to the UN, activists were allowed to re-enter following a meeting with representatives from observer groups who “committed to request prior authorization for any future actions at the COP”.

The Fridays for Future (FFF) movement are currently holding climate strikes in solidarity with the activists removed on Wednesday.

‘We won’t stand down’

The FFF Irish branch described the removal of activists as “unacceptable” as decisions made at the conference will impact their future the most.

The group is now holding a protest outside of the Department of Foreign Affairs, as well as a second protest outside of City Hall in Co Cork.

Striking in the rebel county, 18-year-old Micah Neilson said that she is standing in solidarity with those who were “restrained” on Wednesday.

“This is a big way of silencing indigenous voices. They were not allowed back into COP25 and they were not allowed to speak on their issues while the fossil fuel lobbyists were,” she said.

“[The UN] forced out all the voices that were important in this discussion instead of letting them speak and letting them express their opinions. Everyone has a right to protest,” she added.

Irish youth activists also sent a message of unison to “the women and indigenous people” whose voices of climate dissent were muffled.

Beth Doherty, a 16-year-old climate activist in Dublin, said that she and fellow organisers at FFF wouldn’t “stand back” while those who have tirelessly pushed the climate agenda are being shunned.

“We can’t stand back and allow the voices of those on the frontline to be stamped down, or for civil society to be blocked from observing our politicians making decisions and holding them accountable,” she said.

Cl;imate strike in Cork in solidarity with COP25 activists Photo: Shamim Malekmian
Micah Neilson (c) at clmate strike in Cork in solidarity with COP25 activists Photo: Shamim Malekmian

Decisions coming too slow

James Dunne, another 16-year-old member of FFF said that the lack of progress at COP25 is made worse by the fact that representatives of the fossil fuel industry that is curtailing emissions reductions are at the talks.

“This represents no progress and shows a lack of interest in the voices of the youth and shows a blatant disregard for climate action,” he added.

Friends of the Earth International said today that the prospects for vulnerable communities in the global South “look dire” as wealthy countries” refuse to pay up for the climate damage they have caused”

Karin Nansen, Friends of the Earth International Chair, from Uruguay, said that the “ambition” claimed by developed countries at the climate conference “is a false one”.

“They are serving the interests of corporations aiming to profit from the crisis and secure capital accumulation. The voices of people defending the rights of Indigenous Peoples, women and Southern communities were aggressively pushed out of the COP in a clear attempt to silence them.

“But peoples – in Madrid, Santiago, and around the world – are rising up and will continue to fight for environmental, social, gender and economic justice and system change. We will continue to demand that governments be accountable to people, not to corporate polluters,” Ms Nansen said.

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Shamim Malekmian

Shamim is a Senior Reporter at The Green News and a contributing writer to the Irish Examiner, Cork Evening Echo and the Dublin Inquirer.