Why I just led hundreds of people out of the UN climate talks

by alvaro | November 22, 2013
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by Winnie Byanyima

Today I led hundreds of people from around the world in a walk out of the 19th UN climate talks. Oxfam has been keenly involved in the talks for a long time, fighting to help stop climate change, and to support people affected by it, and every day the urgency for governments to help gets greater. But year after year, the talks have been mostly just going through the motions – with very little progress on reducing emissions, or on raising the $100bn governments have promised to support people affected by climate change by 2020.

We have campaigned passionately and powerfully. Yet the public’s shouts of urgency for governments to act seem to be falling on deaf ears. This year, the talks have reached new lows: the hosting Polish government has colluded with the coal industry to present “clean coal” as a solution to climate change (it isn’t a solution). Australia has attacked the very principle of climate finance. Japan has even pledged to increase – not reduce – their emissions!

Enough is enough

This year we have an unprecedented opportunity to reconnect with people worldwide, and to start building a truly powerful movement for climate action in Warsaw. The solidarity movement for the Philippines, Filipino delegate Yeb Sano’s fast – and all the people who joined him are strong, loud and important. The world is getting impatient.

Now is the time to show governments that we won’t accept their lack of political will. That people around the world demand action. And that world leaders can’t ignore climate change any longer. That’s why so many organizations and individuals have walked out: to go and gather the voices of the public and return stronger than ever in 2014. We’ll be back.

Winnie Byanyima is Oxfam International, Executive Director

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