Between 15,000 and 20,000 farmers, unionists, teachers, peasants, students, garbage pickers, transport workers and other indignant citizens gathered outside the U.N. consultation chambers in Durban on Saturday calling for “system change, not climate change”.
Many of these protestors marched to the U.S. embassy, demanding that the “world’s biggest polluter” start supporting climate solutions that benefit the 99 percent.
In solidarity with their African counterparts, citizens in 20 cities across the U.S. rallied against the eco-destructive actions of the “one percent” as part of the Dec. 3 global day of action to save the planet and “occupy the climate”.
Spearheaded by the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJA), a national network of grassroots organizations, along with the North American chapter of the 200 million member international farmers’ movement, La Via Campesina, Saturday’s events were an attempt to draw together disparate climate-related struggles under one banner.
“We are mobilizing to denounce quick fix solutions being promoted by governments and corporations – like carbon markets, REDD++, and geo- engineering – all of which are just creative ways for corporations to continue profiting at the expense of the people and Mother Earth,” said Dena Hoff, a Montana-based member of the National Family Farm Coalition.
“As stewards of the land, feeding the world’s people, we can’t stand by as our ecosystems are destroyed for corporate greed,” she added.
“U.S. government and corporations are the one percent responsible for the majority of pollution affecting the 99 percent of the world,” Francisca Porchas of the LA-based Labor Community Strategy Center, said Saturday. “We demand that the U.S. immediately reduce carbon emissions to 50 percent of current levels by 2017, and stop obstructing progress towards paying climate debt and forging an internationally binding deal.”
Actions in the U.S. kicked off Friday, when a delegation representing leaders from hundreds of Native American tribes presented President Barack Obama with the Mother Earth Accord, a document stating their opposition to the development of the bitterly contested TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline through Indian country.