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2013-11-21

"Polluters Talk, We Walk": Civil Society Groups Abandon Warsaw Talks over Inaction on Global Warming

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"We’re not abandoning the U.N., we’re just abandoning this COP, because it’s just gotten so bad," says Anjali Appadurai, a youth climate activist working with the environmental groups who backed a walkout of the talks today at the U.N. climate summit in Warsaw, Poland. Hundreds of people abandoned the negotiations, citing a lack of progress over the past 10 days. Among the organizations supporting the effort were Greenpeace, Oxfam, 350.org, the International Trade Union Confederation, ActionAid International, WWF International, Earth in Brackets and Friends of the Earth. "We’re going to bring back social movements as an essential part of this process so that COP 20 next year in Lima can be stronger because of the social movements lighting a fire underneath it," Appadurai says. In 2011, she addressed the U.N. climate summit in Durban, South Africa, on behalf of youth delegates.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. And that is Frédéric Chopin. He is a native of Poland. Yes, we’re broadcasting from Warsaw. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re here at the U.N. climate summit, known as COP 19. Hundreds of activists have walked out of the talks, citing a lack of progress here over the last 10 days. Groups backing the walkout include Greenpeace, Oxfam, 350.org, the International Trade Union Confederation, ActionAid International, WWF and Friends of the Earth. The move comes less than 36 hours after a group of 133 developing nations walked out of a key negotiating meeting amidst a conflict over how countries who have historically emitted the most greenhouse gases should be held financially responsible for some of the damage caused by extreme weather. We’re going to turn right now to some of the voices of protest.

CYNTHIA ASAFI: ... on the promises that were made in Doha, and especially the finance, because what really brought us in Warsaw is the issue of finance: Can it be fulfilled? We don’t want promises. We don’t want empathy, where we have the impact and then people come and just empathize with us or sympathize with us. We don’t want that anymore. We want solidarity.

JAMIE HENN: So, the biggest development, I think, of this moment is that some of the largest NGOs in the world—WWF, Oxfam, Greenpeace—groups that traditionally have been very engaged in this process, are saying, "We actually need to change tactics. We need to begin to take on the fossil fuel industry in a really new way." And so, the message on the shirt says, "Polluters talk, we walk." I think that coming out of these meetings, there’s going to be a new type of commitment to really take on the fossil fuel industry—divestment campaigns, standing up to pipelines like Keystone XL. We’re beginning to figure out that to make progress on climate, we can’t just come to these conference and ask leaders for action; we really need to take on the industry itself.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Jamie Henn of 350.org and Cynthia Asafi of Indigenous Information Network. We’re joined now by Anjali Appadurai, part of the youth organization, Earth in Brackets. She is with Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka and Third World Network.

Welcome to Democracy Now!

ANJALI APPADURAI: Thanks, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: We just have a minute to go. We have seen you in Durban. You were almost banned totally from Durban.

ANJALI APPADURAI: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, almost banned totally from Doha—

ANJALI APPADURAI: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —after giving a major address to the plenary—

ANJALI APPADURAI: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —in Durban. What are you asking for right now?

ANJALI APPADURAI: Right now, the message is that this COP has gotten so bad that civil society is dismissing it. We’re walking out. Three hundred of us just walked out for the last two days of the COP. The message is about social movements. We’re going back. We’re building our power. We’re building up our networks and our movements, and we’re coming back much stronger in Peru, ready to re-engage in the political process. So we’re not abandoning the U.N. We’re just abandoning this COP, because it’s just gotten so bad.

AMY GOODMAN: What’s bad?

ANJALI APPADURAI: The blockers, the big blockers—Australia, Japan, U.S., Canada just blocking so much text, not agreeing to any of the commitments that they’ve already legally signed up to. And the—as you know, the G-77 walked out of a meeting. And so, we have this message, volveremos, "We will be back." You’re not doing anything in the next two days, we already know that. It’s locked in.

AMY GOODMAN: You spoke in Durban. You quoted Nelson Mandela. What did he say?

ANJALI APPADURAI: He said it always seems impossible, until it’s done.

AMY GOODMAN: And do you think anything is getting done?

ANJALI APPADURAI: Not at this COP.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re talking bad cop. Is there a good cop?

ANJALI APPADURAI: There’s no—none of the COPs have been good. We’ve been in negotiations for 20 years. We’re going to—we are going to bring back social movements as an essential part of this process, so that COP 20 next year in Lima can be stronger because of the social movements lighting a fire underneath it.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you for being with us—

ANJALI APPADURAI: Thanks, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: —Anjali Appadurai. Hundreds of young activists have just walked out of the COP 19. She is with Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka.

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