The first week of COP24 seemed to have a slow progress on the Paris Agreement Rule book, with dynamics of power observed between developed and developing countries, as well as countries that are more vulnerable to impacts of climate change. Observing the negotiation sessions, it seems like country leaders often tend to prioritise the economic stability in their own countries. While transitioning away from fossil fuels is important and urgent, nations that are economically dependent on fossil fuels find it difficult to reduce their economic involvement in fossil fuels. At the same time, developing countries that are required to limit their greenhouse gas emissions tend to be requesting for more funds from developed countries.
While the country leaders were sitting in the meeting rooms having consultation and conversations about the Paris Agreement Rule book, thousands of protestors marched 3km in the city of Katowice. The march began at Plac Wolności, and passed by the Spodek and the MCK (ie, the venue for the COP24).
Out of curiosity and my interest in people’s movement, I participated in the protest.
This is the first time I participated in a protest like this. The climate march allowed the people to have their voices heard. It was touching to see thousands of people rallying along the streets for the same cause. After one week of engaging with the rich text of the Paris agreement rule book and sitting in the negotiation rooms listening to country leaders speak, it was a refreshing experience to be outdoors walking and shouting with groups of strangers. That even though we don’t know each other by name, deep down in our hearts, we know that we are marching for the same cause. We are marching for the climate, for our planet earth, for our future generations. The experience reminds me about what I’ve been fighting for, and allows me to make a statement about what I believe in.
Is there value in protesting and having people mobilization? Are protests impactful? Is this specific protest going to change whatever that is happening in the negotiation rooms? Yes, I believe so. The protest shows the strength of the people’s voice. It shows the country leaders that they have to be responsible for the demands of the people whom they are serving. Having thousands of people standing outside of the COP24 event site is definitely different from having them walking around the indoor buildings of Spodek and MCK attending negotiations and side events.
And to the country leaders, I hope you hear the people’s voices, not just from those who were protesting, but also from those who are back home working on the ground for the ones who suffer the impact of climate change. We cannot wait anymore, because winning slowly is equivalent to losing. I urge you to act now and to take ambitious actions at the COP24!