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Putting People Before Profit: Thousands March in Peruvian People’s Climate March in Lima

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On Wednesday, climate justice activists from around world marched in Lima at the people’s climate march. We hear voices from Uganda, Mozambique, Australia, Canada, Peru, Nigeria and more. “We the people have come together to stand up against injustice. We are saying enough is enough,” says Godwin Uyi Ojo, executive director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria. “In the COP, negotiations are taking place. The developed countries are putting profit before people. And we say, ’No, you need to put people first, before profit.”

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

AMY GOODMAN: Thousands of people did march in Lima, Peru, here on Wednesday, demanding urgent action on climate change. Democracy Now!’s Deena Guzder and Nermeen Shaikh spoke to some of them.

PROTESTERS: ¿Qué queremos? Justicia climática! ¿Cuando lo queremos? Ahora! ¿Qué queremos? Justicia climática! ¿Cuando lo queremos? Ahora!

ROBERT BAKIIKA: I’m Robert. I’m from Uganda. I work with an environmental NGO. And what we are doing now here is sending a message to the COP that we need climate justice now. We need commitments now. Climate change is affecting the development, is affecting the landscapes, is affecting food security. And manifestation is already there. People are trying to survive in hard conditions. Poverty levels are growing, because people cannot cope up with this changing weather. The developed nations, the way they developed was they polluted the environment, because they are industrialized countries. And when they polluted the environment, they were on their course to development. So what we are telling them now is to reduce their development models, turn to clean energy, follow their commitments they agreed on, reducing greenhouse gases, and also put finances in technology for countries also to achieve the level of development they also need.

TETET LAURON: My name is Tetet Lauron. I’m from IBON International, and I’m from the Philippines. Well, you know, we’ve been hearing message of sympathy from everyone here at the COP, but right now, at the moment, we’re saying that we’ve had enough of the sympathy, and what we need now is genuine solidarity. This is the third COP where the Philippines has been the center of attention because of the super typhoon that has been hitting our country during the time of these climate meetings. So I suppose, you know, the Philippines is the poster child for all climate disasters. But what I’m saying is, it’s the Philippines now, but, you know, we’re just representative of many other vulnerable communities, many other drowning people and drowning communities, but more importantly, many other communities all over the world who are fighting for meaningful solutions to climate change.

GODWIN UYI OJO: My name is Godwin Ojo, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria. We, the people, have come together to stand up against injustice. We are saying enough is enough. In the COP, where the negotiations is taking place, the developed countries are putting profit before people. And we say, “No, you need to put people first, before profit.” And therefore it is time to make sure that we condemn dirty energy. We say no more to coal, no more to nuclear, no more to all forms of dirty energy. Therefore, keep the oil in the soil, keep the coal in the hole, keep the tar sand in the sand. Oil has become doom. Oil has become a curse. Oil has become all forms of injustice in Nigeria. Shell and the oil companies, they are laughing to the banks. The communities’ land has been taken. The communities are dying every day. They are crying to the hospital. They are crying to mortuaries. This is why we say, “Enough of this injustice.” And therefore, oil companies, Shell, they have no part in this COP. We kick them out of this COP. We kick them out of the economy, the future economy of Nigeria. And we kick them out of a sustainable energy future.

ALISON FLEMING: My name’s Alison Fleming, and I’m from Canberra in Australia.

DEENA GUZDER: What does your sign say?

ALISON FLEMING: My sign says, “Abbott, you’re an old fossil.” As many of you are aware, at COP, Australia has just been named the worst industrial nation. We have dropped 21 positions since the last Conference of the Parties, and it’s directly related to the fact that the carbon tax has been reversed. We wanted to come out today and say that not all Australians support the action of the Australian government. There are many, many Australians that believe in action for climate change and action now.

DEENA GUZDER: And how has climate change affected Australia in particular?

ALISON FLEMING: Climatic variation is really noticeable. Within one week, we can have snowstorms to bushfires, and in different parts of the country we’ll have flooding. So, farmers are finding that climatic decisions are very hard to know when to plant, how to plant. And this huge variation is just destroying whole crops for entire years.

DIPTI BHATNAGAR: My name is Dipti Bhatnagar, with Friends of the Earth International, climate justice and energy coordinator from Mozambique. We are in desperate need of building our climate justice movement, demanding climate justice. We have a planetary emergency. We have millions that are already affected by climate change, and the situation is only going to get much worse. We are here observing the U.N. climate change negotiations, but we’re here because we want to build with the Peruvian and the Latin American movements. We want to build a climate justice movement. We want to also continue to challenge, right? We want to name and shame those who are really responsible.

DEENA GUZDER: And who are those who are responsible?

DIPTI BHATNAGAR: At this point, it’s the developed countries who are blocking everything at the negotiations, who are removing all of their obligations for finance, who are pretending as if the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change doesn’t exist, trying to dismantle historical responsibility, trying to dismantle equity. And we’re here to fight back and say, “Sorry, you cannot. You absolutely cannot do that. We are watching. The world is watching. Civil society is watching. And we’re going to fight back.”

DEENA GUZDER: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is supposed to speak at the climate change conference. What would your message be to him if you could sit down at the table with him?

DIPTI BHATNAGAR: Take your responsibility. Stop running away from your responsibility. Stop trying to damage historical responsibility. Stop trying to undermine equity. Bring the finance. You know, do the emission cuts. And whatever the U.S.—the latest U.S.-China declaration has been is pitiful. It’s a drop in the ocean compared to what the U.S. should be doing to reduce emissions.

ELIZABETH MAY: My name is Elizabeth May. I’m the leader of the Green Party of Canada. I am a member of Parliament for the riding of Saanich and the Gulf Islands. And I’m the only opposition member of Parliament from Canada attending the Conference of the Parties, due to the anti-climate bias of our prime minister. No opposition party members are allowed on our official delegation, so I’m here as an observer. I have been at every COP for a very long time. We know that at the next COP we’re going to have to come to a conclusion, at COP 21. I was in Copenhagen for the disaster there. And we will have an election in Canada between now and COP in Paris. It’s critical that Stephen Harper go. It’s critical that MPs with a commitment to climate action are elected. But at least one of us has to know the thread of the negotiations, so that we can work together to forge a much stronger climate treaty than anything that’s currently being negotiated here.

DIEGO PADILLA: My name is Diego Padilla. I live in Lima. I come from Proyecto Lomas, and we are attempting to save the last, largest ecosystem that we have in our city. In the city that is hosting the COP 20, we are really, really not taking into account the destruction of the lomas around the city. And that’s not acceptable. As civil society, we go out to the streets and claim to our authorities to take care of that, because we need it. It is the last ecosystem that we have in the capital of Peru.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what do you think is happening at COP 20?


NERMEEN SHAIKH: What do you—

DIEGO PADILLA: Absolutely nothing.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: What do you hope this march will accomplish? What do you want this march to accomplish?

DIEGO PADILLA: Inspire more people to join this fight all around the world, because this is happening, and this is affecting every single people around us. So, we all need to gather. We all need to take—to raise awareness about what’s happening and take actions at the local level and at the global level.

BLESSING MUTITI: My name is Blessing Mutiti, and I originally come from Zimbabwe, but I’m staying in South Africa. I’m coming, representing an organization called Project 90 by 2030, and I’m on the youth leadership program, which is called YouLead-Collective. My message to the climate negotiators is they should remember to consider and to—consider intergenerational equity in all the negotiations that are going to happen. If they don’t consider this in Lima, there is no Paris agreement next year. For countries in Africa, we also need climate finance for adaptation and mitigation to happen. So, there’s no just transition if we do not finance the climate change impacts that are actually happening, because there’s already enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is causing tremendous climate change impacts on Africa, and yet African nations, they do not have any resources to adapt and to mitigate for climate change.

TOM GOLDTOOTH: My name is Mato Awanyankapi. People know me as Tom Goldtooth, director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, from Minnesota, United States. And one of the things that we’re also doing is creating a new paradigm, a new paradigm from the corporate takeover of nature, the privatization of nature, and educating people of the world that we need to create a recognition, Earth jurisprudence, the rights of nature, that only that, in our mentality, in our spirituality, and our connection to Mother Earth is one of the things that’s going to turn this around and to mobilize what we have done in the North by forming alliances like the Climate Justice Alliance and forming a voice for the people on the frontlines of struggle. This is the largest gathering, I hear, march in Peru’s history. We’re going to build this momentum and take it to Paris and where people who are organized throughout the world. This is something where indigenous peoples are rising, social movements are rising, women are rising, for the future of our children.

Long live the indigenous peoples! Long live Peru! Long live our women! Long live the social movements! Long live the workers! Long live the right of the water of life!

AMY GOODMAN: Voices from the people’s climate march here in Lima, Peru. That piece was produced by Deena Guzder, Nermeen Shaikh and Hany Massoud. We’ll be back in a minute.

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