Photo essay: Thousands hit the streets of Durban to protest UN 'Conference of Polluters'; Small Island States join Occupy COP17

Overview of the march. Photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC.

[For more on the COP17 Durban climate talks, click HERE.]

Photo essay by Orin Langelle (Global Justice Ecology Project) and Anne Petermann (Global Justice Ecology Project-Global Forest Coalition).

December 3, 2011 – Climate Connections -- Around 12,000 people from South Africa and around the world hit the streets of Durban, South Africa, to protest the UN Climate Conference of Polluters on December 3.

Photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC.

Photo: Langelle/GJEP.

Photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC.

Photo: Langelle/GJEP.

Photo: Langelle/GJEP.

Photo: Langelle/GJEP.

Photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC.

La Via Campesina Photo: Langelle/GJEP.

Radical clowns. Photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC.

Friends of the Earth's Nnimmo Bassey speaks to the crowd. Photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC.

Christina Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, speaks. Photo: Langelle/GJEP.

South African activist Virginia Setshedi. Photo: Langelle/GJEP.

Interview. Photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC.

Photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC.

Photo: Langelle/GJEP.

South African Waste Pickers. Photo: Langelle/GJEP.

Nudes Against Nukes. Photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC.

Photo: Langelle/GJEP.

Photo: Langelle/GJEP.

Photo: Langelle/GJEP.

Never trust a COPoration. Photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC.

December 2: 1000 march for climate justice

December 2, 2011 -- Occupy COP17 -- Today ambassadors for small island states addressed the Occupy COP17 general assembly. We heard from Ronny Jumeau from Seychelles, Dessima Williams from Grenada and Marlene Moses from Nauru. These islands are among those most at risk from rising sea levels. A 2 degrees Celsius rise in global temperature, which is almost certain if the current course of the talks is followed, would lead to their homes and traditional cultures being buried by the ocean. Their impassioned pleas were for people to mobilise and make sure that those within the COP17 got a clear message that delay is not an option, and that strong and decisive action to reduce emissions needs to happen now!

With song and dance, hundreds of people from the Rural Womens Assembly arrived at Speakers' Corner for a rally. They were then joined by hundreds more from One Million Climate Jobs, and then everyone took to the streets, signing, dancing and chanting for climate justice.

This was a taster for what will happen here tomorrow, when the global day of action march takes place in Durban [see photo essay above] and around the world. 20,000 people are expected to make their voices heard, going right past the ICC where delegates will not be able to ignore the calls of the people.

We cannot and will not be silent in the face of the suicide pact being sanctioned by rich nations and imposed on the entire planet.

We demand an end to market based solutions to climate change, and instead call for just and equitable solutions that include immediate and binding emissions reductions and for developed nations to pay their historical climate debt.

Small Island States join Occupy COP17 to say 'we are all one and the same'

Ambassadors from the Small Island States joined the Occupy COP17 movement.

By Tierney Smith, Durban

December 2, 2011 -- RTCC -- “We are all one and the same”, said Ronald Jumeau, ambassador to the UN for the Seychelles, when he joined the Occupy COP17 movement on December 2.

Jameau joined ambassador Dessima Williams from Grenada and ambassador Marlene Moses from Nauru and the African Rural Women’s Assembly.

This follows a call from the Alliance of Small Island States on December 1 urging a new legally binding commitment to be ready by the end of 2012, when they Kyoto Protocol runs out – a call which has been opposed by the majority of developed countries, which are looking at a timetable of up to 2015 or 2020.

But ambassador Moses was resolute speaking to the crowds; countries like Nauru and Grenada and the entire African continent cannot wait until the end of the decade for such a deal.

“I come from a region, where by the end of the century the low-lying atolls will be submerged as sea levels rise”, she said. “There will be hundreds of storm surges, droughts, our food security will be compromised, our water security, our survivability. So we thank each and every one of you here today for being our conscience. And we will continue to be your voice in those halls and in the negotiating room. We represent the people of our countries and that’s each and every one of you here today. Thank you for your steadfastness, your faithfulness and for your conviction that ensures we do our job properly for the people.”

The Occupy COP17 movement has been building up slowly over the first week of the conference. Now with several more banners and a plot filled with guerrilla gardens, the group is now bedded in ahead of the arrival of ministers and heads of state.

The African Rural Women's Assembly also joined the group.

And today saw the general assembly grow in numbers as the African Rural Women’s Assembly joined the group, adding their voice to the protest for climate justice.

Jameau stressed the need for this co-operation in his speech to crowds, when he remarked on the similarities of what countries in Africa and island countries face as the effects of climate change worsen.

“I want to send a message to the city of Durban. We have heard from the islands – from the Caribbean, from the Pacific and I come from the Indian Ocean. The same message applies to the poor city of Durban”, he said. “I live on the beachfront and from what I see from my hotel window when the storm surges come to cover our island they will cover the low-lying parts of Durban.”

“The conference in Durban cannot condemn us without condemning itself. So our message is the message of all the people of Durban – during COP17 you are all small islanders. So don’t save us, save yourselves. We are one and the same.”