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“They Have Destroyed Our Livelihood”: Activists Protest Shell and Chevron at U.N. Climate Talks

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At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, protesters gathered inside Monday to protest the invitation of oil giants Shell and Chevron to speak on summit panels. Democracy Now! producer Mike Burke was there when scores of summit delegates attempted to walk into an event featuring Shell climate change adviser David Hone.

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

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting live from Lima, Peru, at the COP 20, the U.N. Climate Change Conference. Yes, it’s known as the COP 20, the 20th annual Conference of the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC.

The summit is being held at the Peruvian army headquarters, known as “El Pentagonito.” It’s a site with a dark history. It was built in 1975 by the dictator Juan Velasco Alvarado. The army, under President Alberto Fujimori, later used the base to torture and interrogate political prisoners, including members of the Shining Path. This week, the base is being used to host representatives from over 190 nations attending the climate change conference. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to arrive here on Thursday. The last time a U.S. secretary of state attended the summit was Hillary Clinton in 2009 in Copenhagen.

On Monday, the People’s Summit on Climate Change kicked off in Lima in a city park miles from the well-fortified U.N. talks. Meanwhile, inside the talks, a number of actions took place. On Monday afternoon, activists gathered to protest the oil giant Shell. A representative from the company, David Hone, Shell’s climate change adviser, spoke at a panel inside the United Nations conference. Democracy Now!'s Mike Burke was there when scores of summit delegates attempted to walk into the Shell event. In a moment, you'll hear one of the protest organizers, Pascoe Sabido of the Corporate Europe Observatory, with me right here, but first, Godwin Uyi Ojo. He’s executive director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria.

GODWIN UYI OJO: Since 1956, when Shell came to Nigeria’s Niger Delta, the Niger Delta have known no rest. It has been conflict, violence, human rights violations, killings and series of deaths. You all are aware of the situation of Ken Saro-Wiwa. Shell has polluted our rivers. Shell has taken our land. Shell has destroyed our livelihood. We say it is time that the world stand up against Shell, that they cannot continue in their violence against people, in their violence against communities. Shell has no place in Nigeria. Shell has no place in these negotiations.

PASCOE SABIDO: Right next door, we’ve got Shell sponsoring an event on our energy future. So we’re now going to calmly, very peacefully go over to their side event and ask them why they’re in here and try and work through with them. So if you’ll please follow us in a calm way, we’re now going to go to the side event of Shell and see if we can interact.

SECURITY GUARD: Excuse me. Where are you heading?

PASCOE SABIDO: [inaudible] side event.


PASCOE SABIDO: Into the side event.



SECURITY GUARD: You’re supposed to in front of there.

PASCOE SABIDO: We’re finished. We’re finished. The action is finished.

We’re now at the entrance of the International Emissions Trading Association Pavilion, where they’re trying to present themselves as part of climate solution. In fact, the event they’re about to hold is with Shell, one of the biggest polluters in the world; the World Coal Association, that’s trying to work coal in a solution to climate change; and the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute. This event is also sponsored by Chevron. These are not players we want to see in our climate solutions, in our climate policy. So we’re here to ask them if they’ll politely, please, to leave, and we don’t want to see fossil fuels anywhere near these talks.

MIKE BURKE: Can you talk about some of the people that are taking part in this action?

PASCOE SABIDO: So, this is people from the Niger Delta, from the tar sands in Canada, and people being affected in Peru and Colombia. So, people from all around the world, whether you’re North or South, have solidarity and are standing against these destructive corporations and impacts they’re having. They’re not in the interest of any of us, so why should they be here?

And the last thing, the last thing to say, is we also have Lord Nicholas Stern, who’s supposed to be speaking at this event. He’s a well-known climate economist, and respected, producing the Stern Review in 2006. And yet here he is lending his legitimacy to such an event of false solutions. And I’m sure he doesn’t agree with such a fossil fuel-driven future, but yet he’s putting his name to this. And I think both him and the UNFCCC have to realize that they’re lending their legitimacy to solutions that are only going to lead to dangerous and extreme global warming, which is not something that any of us want.

GODWIN UYI OJO: My name is Godwin Ojo of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria. We are here to condemn the activities of Shell in COP 20. Shell is promoting dirty energy as part of the energy future of the world. The people you see here gathered, civil society groups, they say, “No, it is time for energy transformation of the world from dirty energy, from nuclear, from coal, from oil, to that of renewable energy,” in line with the African position of renewable energy feed-in tariffs. This is why we are here.

Shell, in addition, has caused monumental havoc in the Niger Delta. They have destroyed our rivers. They have destroyed our livelihood. They have destroyed all that the people depend on. So, they made profit without concern for local people. So it is time that they are no longer part of the economy of Nigeria, they are no longer a part of the energy future of the world. So, this is why we are pushing for renewable energy and to say Shell has no part in COP 20 or any Earth summit whatsoever.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Godwin Uyi Ojo, the executive director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, speaking outside an event at the U.N. climate change talks, where a representative from the oil giant Shell spoke. Before that, you heard Pascoe Sabido of the Corporate Europe Observatory.

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