As the United Nations Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC)’s intersessional round of negotiations in Bangkok, also known as #SB48Bangkok, came to a close, ActionAid Thailand on Saturday 8 September joined partners, activists and organisations at the UN ESCAP Building to demand urgent action on climate justice.
Organised by ActionAid and 350.org with the latter’s #RiseforClimate global movement, the protest at the UN ESCAP Building gathered more than 200 individuals from various organisations around the world, including Asian People’s Movement and Development (APMDD), Climate Watch Thailand, Asia Climate Change Consortium (ACCC), Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO) along with ActionAid Thailand’s local partners, namely the Inner Gulf of Thailand Conservation Network (Ao Tua Gor), Pathumthani Network, and the Thai Network for Disaster Management, and youth activists from the Activista network.
Before banding with various organisations in solidarity, ActionAiders and partners assembled on Ratchadamnoen Nok Road at 9am for early mobilisation activities, including message writing and public demand making by one of our local partners, who drew eager attention from the media present, such as AFP, BBC, Bloomberg, Huffington Post, Voice TV and Climate Tracker.
“With sea level rise, how can fisheries and aquaculture survive? With coastal erosion, where are we to live? We can no longer pull back,” declared Ms Ari Khongklat from Pathum Thani Province about the impacts climate change is having on her community and its livelihood.
Calls for the end of coal use and gender justice were heard and reverberated as like-minded groups marched towards the front entrance of the UN ESCAP. Leaders from each organisation took turns making their case and rallying the protesters through chants like, “For Climate Justice! We Are Rising!”, “Japan (and other developed countries), do your role! Japan, stop the coal!”, “No climate justice! Without gender justice!” and the songlike “I’m gonna rise like the water, gonna shut this system down/ I hear the voice of my great grand-daughters, saying ‘climate justice now!’”
Climate finance was highlighted through a symbolic performance that saw Pathum Thani Network member Pinit Phudphong, garbed in a Donald Trump mask, a suit and a blue tie, put money in a “climate fund” box. This not so much critiqued the Republican president’s pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement as it demanded that rich countries and big corporates own up to their responsibilities and pay their fair share in a global effort to deal with climate change.
“There’s a huge disconnect between what’s happening inside and out here where people are living in dire consequences,” said Harjeet Singh, ActionAid’s Global Lead on Climate Change. “They’re facing the impacts of climate change and they need support and justice. The negotiations are not moving in the right direction. Developed countries are blocking the progress on finance. Unless finance is delivered and there is a stronger rulebook, we will not be able to implement the Paris Agreement.”
Last Saturday’s mobilisation caps off the series of events organised by ActionAid Thailand, ActionAid International, our partners and our allies, that ran from 29 August to 8 September. We have worked closely with the people behind the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice, the Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development, Focus on the Global South, Chumchon Thai Foundation, the Inner Gulf of Thailand Conservation Network, Pathumthani Network, and the Thai Network for Disaster Management. Having fostered relationships and solidarity with these international and local organisations, we’re certain Bangkok is only the first chapter of our opus on the fight for climate justice. Let’s all continue our efforts until Katowice and beyond.