5 December 2011
Thousands of people from around the world took to the streets of Durban on Saturday to call for action on climate change ahead of the second week of negotiations at COP 17.
The colourful crowds carried banners calling for action rather than mere rhetoric on climate change.
“Today’s march was an amazing moment of solidarity that showed people want real action from their governments on climate change – not just talk,” said Tasneem Essop, head of international climate strategy at the World Wildlife Fund.
‘The will of our leaders is weak’
“The will of the people is strong. The problem is that the will of our leaders is weak.”
The protestors were also concerned by the positions of bigger nations like Canada and the United States.
Last week, Peter Kent, Canada’s environment minister, refused to confirm or deny rumours that his country had decided to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol.
“After six days of talks, we seem to be moving backward, not forward,” said Essop. “It’s time for governments to bravely stand side by side with their citizens. The stakes are enormous as we fight to secure enough food, water and energy for all.”
‘We are working tirelessly’
The protestors handed over a letter to the president of COP 17, South Africa’s International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres.
Figueres once again thanked all stakeholders for making their voices heard. She said Mashabane and herself were working to push governments.
“We are working tirelessly. I want you to know [we] were working until four o’clock this morning and we will continue to work,” Figueres said.
Security was tight at the Global Day of Action and there were no reports of disorderly behaviour.