The voices of the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice

Thousands of people marched Saturday in Durban, South Africa, at the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice. The demonstrators marched outside the International Convention Center where the United Nations talks on Climate change are taking place.

Workers, peasants, environmentalists, landless communities, people affected by big transnational corporations, women and many other groups mobilized to demand climate justice.

Environmental federation Friends of the Earth International highlighted that in order to achieve climate justice industrialized nations need to drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. They add that these countries should also provide funds to the Global South for adaptation and mitigation to climate change and clean technology that will enable the impoverished countries to develop sustainably.

A second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol with legally binding drastic emission cuts was one of the key demands that came out of the march that lasted for hours.

Real World Radio participated in the demonstration and interviewed several activists representative of the demonstrators. Ebiaridor Kentebe of Friends of the Earth Nigeria said that the demonstration’s main demand was climate justice and he said peoples mobilize when access to natural resources is denied to them and their rights are violated.

Emily Tjale of the Land Access Movement of South Africa said the countries “should hear our voices as rural women because we are the most affected by climate change”. The South African leader considered the “Kyoto Protocol mustn’t end in 2012, it should be extended and all the countries who are here should come to an agreement which is legally binding”. Tjale underlined that there will be “no climate justice without gender justice”.

Thomas Mnguni of the Greater Middleburg Resident’s Association – South Africa, said that the demonstrators aim “to show the South African government, the World Bank, and all the governments of all over world that the people want a decision on climate change and they want it now”, because “climate change is killing us”, he continued.

In fact, it is estimated that nearly 300,000 people die every year as a result of climate change.

Renaldo Chingore João of Via Campesina International said “The message of La Via Campesina to our government leaders is that we do not want the negotiations for carbon trading. We want agriculture off the negotiating table”. Experts in the negotiations have claimed that there is a push for the expansion of carbon markets to agriculture.

“We want good sovereignty” instead, said Chingore. “Natural resources cannot be sold because they belong to humanity, that is the message we would like to send to our government representatives”. Winnie Overbeek, coordinator of the World Rainforest Movement explained that the movement has decided to follow the COP negotiations closely “mainly to expose the false solutions involving forests”, such as tree monoculture plantations for carbon capture and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).

Overbeek said REDD projects “are already being implemented in forest areas violating community rights”. “Government leaders should reach an agreement to actually tackle the causes of climate change and that means reducing the emissions in industrialized countries”.

Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International spoke before the demonstrators at the march. He said “we need to send a very strong and direct message to the conference that this is not a time to end it with an empty agreement”. “The people of Africa will not accept it”, he continued, since Africa “is already the most impacted, the most vulnerable continent of the world”. “We want legally binding emissions reduction”, he demanded.

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