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As U.S. Elects Global Warming Denier, Thousands March in Marrakech Calling for Climate Justice

StoryNovember 14, 2016
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Democracy Now! broadcasts from Marrakech, Morocco, where the second week of the United Nations climate talks have just begun. The conference was jolted last week by Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election, as he has vowed to "cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs." We feature the voices of some of the thousands who marched Sunday for climate justice.


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

AMY GOODMAN: Here in Marrakech, Morocco, the second week of the U.N. climate talks has just begun. The conference was jolted last week by the election of Donald Trump in the United States, who has vowed to cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs. Here in Morocco, France’s Environment Minister Ségolène Royal called Donald Trump’s climate plan to be "absolutely catastrophic."

SÉGOLÈNE ROYAL: [translated] I think if such decisions are taken, it would be absolutely catastrophic, so I dare to believe that such things are campaign promises to please a certain electorate, which has not understood that global warming is a reality, or to answer the oil and fossil energy lobbies. I think that when he actually takes office, he will see that withdrawing from multilateral negotiations and climate issues would weaken the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, on Sunday, thousands of people marched here in the streets in Marrakech, Morocco. Democracy Now! was covering that march.

NOURA OUCHEN: My name is Noura Ouchen. I’m from Morocco. We are here in Morocco. Like you can see, it’s November, and it’s very hot. And you can say that, in the rural world, it’s even worse. And it’s really impacting people. They don’t have water. They don’t have food. They cannot go to school, which is—they are basic, you know? It’s a basic right for each and every human.

GODWIN UYI OJO: My name is Godwin Uyi Ojo, Environmental Rights Action, Friends of the Earth Nigeria.

MIKE BURKE: And why are you here today?

GODWIN UYI OJO: We are here to make sure that the voices of the people are heard. People all over the world are becoming voiceless, voiceless not because they cannot speak, voiceless because their voices are not heard in decision making. So we are here to impress, to ensure that 1.5 degrees, that has been signed in the Paris Accord, must be adhered to. We are here to fight for historical responsibility. We are here to ensure that people’s power, energy democracy is now. We want a system where we move away from fossil fuel dependency and move towards renewable energy alternatives, which is already available. And the time to do it is now. To save mankind, the time to do it is now. And that is why we say, "Leave oil in the soil, leave the coal in the hole, and tar sand in the sand."

MIKE BURKE: And we’re here in North Africa, in Morocco, right now. Could you talk about the impact climate change is already having on the people in Africa?

GODWIN UYI OJO: One of the greatest impacts of climate change in Africa has to do with migration. Now, because of scarcity of land as a result of climate change, there is a clash for the whole of West Africa. From Nigeria up to Mali and up to this place, the scarcity of land is driving droves of people to become climate migrants. These issues are before this COP 22. And we hope that far-reaching agreements on how to implement the nationally determined commitments will be part of the decisions that will be made in COP 22.

BEN VAN IMPELEN: I’m Ben, from the Netherlands. And I biked here in a big bicycle action to promote, you know, like non-flying transport and to promote biking in cities. And yeah, we’re definitely here—I’m with the Green Party of the Netherlands. And I carried the flag here, you know, to support the environmental movement.

MIKE BURKE: When you say you biked here, you mean you biked from your hotel this morning?

BEN VAN IMPELEN: No, I mean I biked from Paris, France. So it was like 3,500 kilometers on bike. Took me two months, but it was a hell of a trip. If you really want to meet people in a country, well, I definitely recommend biking, you know? Then you see really something else, outside of the touristy areas, yeah.

MIKE BURKE: Why did you decide to bike all the way here to the climate talks?

BEN VAN IMPELEN: Well, the previous climate talks were in Paris, so it was kind of symbolic, you know, to bike from COP 21 to COP 22.

THEMBEKA MAJALI: I’m Thembeka Majali from South Africa. I’m part of the Rural Women’s Assembly delegation. And we are here to participate as civil society in calling our government and world leaders to take climate change seriously.

AMY GOODMAN: How does climate change affect South Africa?

THEMBEKA MAJALI: It displaced many people in terms of the land, in terms of the seeds that they do not have, in terms of the food that they want to grow. With climate change, anything is impossible.

REV. MARC ANDRUS: I’m Marc Andrus. I’m the Episcopal bishop of California. And I’m here with this group. I’m part of a delegation representing the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church to COP 22, and also trying to bring some spiritual values. We believe that some of the humanizing spiritual values of life are how we actually accomplish climate justice.

AMY GOODMAN: Your thoughts on the election of Donald Trump?

REV. MARC ANDRUS: Donald Trump is distinguishable from the presidency and our country. He is not America. And he is also not able to cancel the Paris Agreement in terms of the United States. The Paris Agreement envisions that what they call subnational bodies will have a big role in accomplishing the goals of the Paris Agreement. And we believe that cities, regions, churches, smaller governments, smaller groups of people can actually accomplish at least 50 percent of the commitments that the United States has made to the Paris Agreement, before the deadline of 2020.

GRACE AHERON: My name is Grace Aheron. I’m from Central Virginia, Charlottesville, stolen Monacan Indian land. I’m here as a part of the Episcopal Church delegation in the United States. We are here to engage with spiritual values and the inner dimensions of climate change, as well as outward activism, because we believe we have to change hearts and minds and transform hearts and minds in order to transform the outward structures of power in this country.

AMY GOODMAN: So you’ve just come from the United States. Your thoughts on the election of Donald Trump?

GRACE AHERON: We’re terrified. We know we can’t rely on our government right now. He has already said he’s not—he wants to back out of the Paris Agreement. So I think this is an invitation for everyone back home—civil society, churches, people, organizations, communities—to rise up. We are the ones who have to protect this planet. Now we can no longer rely on the government to do it.

TAMAR LAWRENCE-SAMUEL: My name is Tamar Lawrence-Samuel. I’m with the U.S.-based, internationally focused NGO called Corporate Accountability International. And we’re here today because transnational fossil fuel corporations are taking over climate policymaking. Their fingerprints are everywhere. They’re in the talks, through their front groups and trade associations, like the World Coal Association and BusinessEurope, and they’re derailing progress on climate. And we cannot wait for progress.

AMY GOODMAN: What corporations are you most concerned about?

TAMAR LAWRENCE-SAMUEL: We’re concerned about all transnational fossil fuel corporations—Exxon, Shell, Chevron, BP. And as you know, we’ve heard very recently and over the last couple of years that Exxon has known about climate change for decades and has been misleading people at the expense of human lives and the planet. What we want to see happen is governments band together at the UNFCCC to pass a policy, akin to one that has been passed in the tobacco control context, that would prohibit the participation of transnational corporations—tobacco corporations in the tobacco context, and fossil fuel corporations in the climate context—from participating in the policymaking process through their trade associations and others.

AMY GOODMAN: Your thoughts, as an American, on the election of Donald Trump? He says climate change is a hoax, and will pull out of the Paris Agreement.

TAMAR LAWRENCE-SAMUEL: It’s really important for us to focus on what we can do. And what we can do is call on the governments that are committed to this to continue taking action. The EU must continue to do its fair share to ensure that we don’t exceed 1.5 degrees. If the U.S. pulls out of these—of this process, we have to continue moving forward. And we’ll come back to the U.S. when they’re ready to deal with the reality.

AMY GOODMAN: And your thoughts, overall, on Donald Trump?

TAMAR LAWRENCE-SAMUEL: We’re a nonpartisan organization. But Donald Trump, for climate change, is going to do very, very little. It was a dark, dark day to find out he was elected.

JUNAID ASHRAF: My name is Junaid Ashraf. I’m from Scotland. So, today, I’m here with Islamic Relief. So, we’re a worldwide charity, so we work with multiple organizations across the world to combat climate change. So we’re here at the COP 22 to learn about how we can engage with other charities and other organizations and NGOs, and facilitate more change, because right now, clearly, enough is not being done, when we’re on track for 3 degrees Celsius temperature rise, when we’re wanting to keep it under 1.5 degrees Celsius.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about your thoughts on the election of Donald Trump as president in the United States?

JUNAID ASHRAF: It is shocking; however, how much of what he says can and will be true? I know everyone is really scared right now, but all we can do is really—actually, that’s a bad way to put it. I wouldn’t say the only thing we can do is step in. I think what we have to do is hold our governments to account. So, anybody who voted for Hillary Clinton, this isn’t the end. You have to go back and lobby and just attack anything that you see as xenophobic or racist within the processes that we have. It’s through democracy, not through violent acts, because if we do that, then we’re no better than the people that are voting for Trump when he’s saying that you should ban all Muslims, we should build a wall. And we should be building bridges, not walls. So, in a way, democracy does not stop at the vote. Democracy only starts at the vote, and it’s after that that we have to hold our governments to account.

DIPTI BHATNAGAR: I’m Dipti Bhatnagar. I coordinate the climate justice and energy program for Friends of the Earth International, and I live in Mozambique. We were there in Peru. We were there in Paris. We’re here. We’re standing with impacted peoples everywhere. I think that’s what’s really important. We’re going to the COPs. We’re bringing the messages of impacted peoples, whether it’s Imider and Safi, the polluted areas of this very land that we’re standing on, or it’s Standing Rock, where, of course, Democracy Now! has done some amazing work, or it’s the coalfields in Mozambique and South Africa, or the Niger Delta. We are here. We’ve got community community people with us. We’re raising the voices of impacted peoples throughout the world.

AMY GOODMAN: How important is the U.S. in this process, where we come from?

DIPTI BHATNAGAR: To be honest with you, we are really, as a global climate justice movement, at this moment having a very deep think of how we are going to engage with the U.S. The U.S. has always been a blocker on climate action for years and years. This is throughout the Obama years, as well, unfortunately. At this moment, we are all pretty terrified of what is going to happen in terms of international climate action from the U.S., but also, I mean, we’re standing with communities in the U.S. who are going to be threatened and are feeling threatened and fearful about their role in the world. And the very first message that we want to send them is that the world stands with you—people of color, African-American communities, Muslim communities, indigenous communities. First and foremost, we need to stand together, and we need to challenge the U.S. And if necessary, we need to isolate the U.S.. Maybe it’s come time to do that.

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