Boston, MA – Activists with climate group Rising Tide hung a 30-foot banner reading, “System Change, Not Climate Change” on the Harvard Bridge (Massachusetts Ave.), the largest bridge spanning the Charles River this afternoon. The action comes in the final days of the United Nations Climate Talks in Copenhagen, as 115 world leaders arrive while negotiations have deadlocked. In the past week, over one thousand activists have been arrested in protests.
“The United Nations process has systematically failed the world’s marginalized countries and consistently excludes those that would dare support and fight on behalf of those countries,” said David Bukett of Rising Tide. “We need system change to create a world which is truly just and sustainable to solve the climate crisis.”
Political tensions have risen inside and outside the Bella Center, site of the negotiations, as the United Nations talks that were supposed to galvanize global cooperation against climate change are on the brink of failure. Developing countries have accused the developed countries of refusing to significantly reduce climate pollution and to pay their ecological debt to the climate-impacted developing world.
President Obama has offered to cut U.S. emissions by 17 percent of 2005 levels by 2020. The proposal has been widely criticized because it amounts to just a four percent cut when adopting the 1990 emissions standard used by the rest of the world. Additionally, developed countries have offered $10 billion to help poor countries adapt to unavoidable climate change, while the World Bank and United Nations both agree that $100 billion a year is a fair amount.
“I will not die in silence. Ten billion! Ten billion is not enough to buy the coffins you will bury us with. So we are saying, a political deal is a bad deal,” Augustine Njamnshi of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance told a crowd outside the talks earlier this week.
Protesters outside the Copenhagen talks clashed with police on Wednesday, as police used pepper spray, tear gas and batons. Vowing to stage a ‘people’s assembly’ inside the Bella Center, 240 people were arrested in addition to over 1,000 arrested in the past week. When protesters were refused entry, over 100 delegates, led by two members of the Bolivian government delegation, marched out of the talks to join the protest.
“First they shut the public out of climate negotiations, then they shut out 80% of NGOs who have been accredited to attend, and now they are jailing people who challenge the undemocratic nature of the climate negotiations, while the future of life on earth literally hangs in the balance,” said Dorothy Guerro of the Climate Justice Now Network.
On Friday, concerned Boston citizens will be caroling with climate-themed songs at 5:30PM in Downtown Crossing. Protests are being held in cities across the United States tomorrow, including San Francisco and Washington D.C., in response to obstruction by developed countries.