Activism team update from COP21: A week of action!
BY Amanda Karestrand and Karin Edstedt, 7 December, 2015
This is an update from the YMCA- RGE Activism team, currently consisting of Amandine from France, Kirsten from Norway and Karin and Amanda from Sweden. Action is a powerful way of spreading your message. Policy, communication and action are all three very important components when you want to have an impact on political issues, but as the actions team, we think that actions are not only a very important way to participate, but also the most fun. The purpose of actions is to raise awareness about different issues by visualizing the issue in a creative way.
The first day at COP21 we joined an action to highlight that climate change education is important. Amanda engaged with the YOUNGO working group on education during the Conference of Youth and helped out with preparations. As you can see in the picture the action was like a puzzle, where the delegates and people who stopped by could finish the sentence “Climate Change Education Is….” with a word of their choice. We had several signs with messages such as: “Important,” “necessary,” “investing in a bright future.” In the action, people could choose the one they liked the most, put it in the puzzle and take a picture.
On Tuesday, the 1st of December, the second day of COP, the campaign #Fast4Climate was also set out as an action inside the COP21-venue. This is a really interesting campaign which you can read more about here: http://fastfortheclimate.org/en/
And we hope you’ve been following us on social media — if you have, you probably already heard about the success with the #ZeroBy2050 and #1o5C campaign. Raising awareness about the fact that small island states will literally disappear if Parties do not commit to the 1.5 degree target, and that this goal can only be reached if the world goes fossil free in 2050, was something that we really wanted to help out with.
Thursday, which was “Youth and Future Generations Day,” also included a very successful action. It was called #dieinCOP and was very simple yet powerful. At 3PM, youth inside and outside COP (and also all around the world) pretended to drop dead right on the spot. We played dead for a minute or so, and then came back to life. The activism team was inside of the COP venue with a lot of other people, and we draw quite a lot of attention and it felt really special. The purpose of this action was to raise awareness on youth already suffering from climate change, and that climate change will cause us damage and death in the future if negotiators do not change their attitudes. It also highlighted youth (and civil society in general) being shut out from the negotiations in Paris so far. It was a special experience taking part in this kind of action, and you really felt the strength in being part of a big crowd — though it was not without its pitfalls (“nobody paid attention to me!” “I accidentally lost my phone in the fall” “I did not know when to wake up so I stayed on the floor for three minutes!”) The action spread widely and took place both inside and outside of the COP venue. Important and fun!
Friday, some really interesting actions happened:
- #StopFundingFossils: In the morning we gathered in an action space to protest against fossil fuel subsidies. We held banners and posters, and some speakers told everyone why fossil fuel subsidies must stop. The science is clear and non-negotiable. We have significantly more coal, oil, and gas than the world can afford to burn for a safe climate future. And yet, each year, hundreds of billions of our tax dollars (and pounds, euros and rubles) are handed out by governments around the world to help fossil fuel companies explore, expand, and exploit more unburnable carbon.
- The Survival Declaration release. On the Youth and Future Generations Day, the action was to get the different Parties (also known as “countries” in COP-speak) to sign a declaration that said: “We will do what it takes to ensure the survival of all countries and peoples.” As you see in the picture, a lot of countries DID sign the pledge – but there are also some who didn’t.
- And sometimes here at COP we just stumble upon some action. Like this one, “How Low Can You Go?” All of the sudden this limbo action was taking place right in the middle of the main street inside of COP challenging bystanders to limbo and at the same time highlighting the 1.5 degree target of global warming issue. Thumbs up!
Saturday, there was one action on the issue of Loss and Damage. To visualize this, some really creative people from the Loss and Damage working group had prepared a big Jenga tower made of cardboard blocks. Each of the pieces represented some kind of disaster that will happen more often due to climate change, for example typhoons, floods, etc. They built a tower with the pieces, symbolizing a home, and then pulled out one piece at a time. Eventually, the tower collapsed, displaying the damage that climate change will cause to people. The purpose of this action was to raise awareness about the issue of Loss & Damage that needs to be included in the final agreement. This is something that affects real humans, not just words on a paper.
More actions are coming up, we will keep you posted and maybe ask for your help to spread the word about the actions happening! Check out the different Facebook groups, emails and Twitter campaign #act4future for more info! Stay tuned!