In 25 years of UN Climate Talks, we’ve hardly ever seen something like this. Yet, there could be no better symbol of this crisis we face.

On Wednesday, hundreds of people including many youth strikers occupied the main plenary hall of the 25th UN Climate Talks in Madrid (COP25) to highlight the inadequacy of climate negotiations. To date, Paris Agreement goals – already totally insufficient to keep warming under 1.5˚C – are way, way off track.

Together with Indigenous leaders and other civil society groups, they demanded that richer industrialised countries “step up and pay up” for the damage caused to communities suffering from increasingly severe climate disasters. They warned of the dangers of carbon markets, allowing corporations to buy and sell pollution – and urged real limits be enacted right now to phase out fossil fuels, the main drivers of emissions. It was a message to the corporate polluters in the building that the people won’t settle for anything less than a genuine, just transition away from the fossil fuel economy.

But then, those voices were silenced.  After some protesters marched out, security corralled and pushed remaining members of civil society out of the venue, and formed a  security line before slamming the door shut. Conference attendees with Observer status were stripped of their badges. An Indigenous woman was not allowed inside again to feed her baby. It was a crackdown with little precedent at the annual UN Climate Talks.

Demand Climate Justice protesters forced outside the venue of COP25 in Madrid. Photo: Hugo Duschene


There are 2 days left of COP25: and we’ve already seen over half a million people mobilize to let those inside know we’re watching. Already, close to 30,000 people have signed a petition demanding an end to fossil fuel finance at COP25. As negotiations draw to a close, one thing is for sure – this is nowhere near finished. 

More on the occupation here and civil society’s response here. 

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