Field Notes from Climate Justice Activists at the U.N. Climate Conference (COP25)

Takeaways from the peoples’ climate movements in Santiago, Chile, and Madrid, Spain

A group of six climate activists sitting in front of a sign that says #COP25
Climate justice activists from the It Takes Roots Delegation in front of a COP25 sign. From left to right: Cynthia Mellon (Climate Justice Alliance), Jésus Vasquez (Organización Boricuá), Nyiesha Mallett (UPROSE), Carlos Torrealba (Jobs with Justice Florida), Nancy Huizar (Got Green Seattle), and Mikaela Curry (Kentuckians for the Commonwealth). Photo provided by Mikaela Curry.

“We are the white blood cells in the cancer of capitalism” — Monẽka de Oro, Micronesia Climate Change Alliance

Santiago, Chile

Blue mural in Santiago, Chile, depicting “aguas libres.”
Mural seen in Santiago with the words “Aguas Libres.” Photo by Hendrik Voss

Why was COP25 moved?

Street art that reads, “Santiago será la tumba del neoliberalismo.”
Street art that reads, “Santiago será la tumba del neoliberalismo.” (“Santiago will be the tomb of neoliberalism.”) Photo by Marissa Reyes-Díaz
Photo of activist Christian Rodriguez from the Ironbound Community Corporation wearing a green bandana
Photo of activist Christian Rodriguez from the Ironbound Community Corporation wearing a green bandana
Community groups in the neighborhood of La Bandera in Santiago, Chile, organized a fair and a march, calling for freedom for the political prisoners from their neighborhood, who have been imprisoned for their participation in the popular uprising. Depicted here is Christian Rodriguez from the Ironbound Community Corporation (Newark, New Jersey), wearing a green bandana made by a Chilean woman artisan. Photo by Marion Gee. Source: It Takes Roots

Cumbre de los Pueblos

The system tries to frame us as if we are activists that want to protect nature– and Casey Camp-Horinek, an Indigenous elder from IEN said, “We are nature reacting, we are part of nature, we are not separated from nature.”

Jésus Vasquez, Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica de Puerto Rico

Inside the Carpas de las Mujeres (the feminist tent) at the Cumbre de los Pueblos.
Inside the Carpas de las Mujeres (the feminist tent) at the Cumbre de los Pueblos.
Inside the Carpas de las Mujeres (the feminist tent) at the Cumbre de los Pueblos. Photo by Marissa Reyes-Díaz
Street art in Santiago, Chile.
Street art in Santiago, Chile. Photo by Hendrik Voss.

Madrid, Spain

What is COP25?

“It’s heartbreaking how they have commodified nature — the land, water, and air that is necessary to sustain life, and that should be accessible to all life forms.”

— Nyiesha Mallett, UPROSE

What was it like?

Four activists standing outside of the Canadian embassy building in Madrid, Spain, with signs on their backs “Reject Teck”
Activists outside of the Canadian embassy in Madrid, Spain, protesting the expansion of tar sands by Teck Resources. Photo by Mikaela Curry.
Activist Moneka de Oro opening her backback for two police officers at COP25.
Activist Moneka de Oro opening her backback for two police officers at COP25.
The police at COP25 searching Moneka’s bag. Photo by Mikaela
A group of people in a circle listening to speakers with rally signs in the middle of the circle on the floor
A group of people in a circle listening to speakers with rally signs in the middle of the circle on the floor
Workshop at Cumbre de los Pueblos on “A Just and Feminist Transition.” Photo by Mikaela Curry.

People’s March for Climate Change

Indigenous activists carrying a large yellow banner and signs.
People’s March for Climate Change, Indigenous block. Photo by Jennifer Falcon (IEN)

Bringing Everything Home

“It was great making connections with other folks around the country and sharing the labor perspective, as well as learning about their just transition work, and learning the deep analysis about carbon markets and false solutions.“

— Carlos Torrealba, Jobs with Justice Florida

Four panelists seated at a long table
Four panelists seated at a long table
Panel: Climate Emergency, Reclaim Power & Ending the Age of Fossil Fuels, organized by Jubilee South Asia Pacific Movement, Inc (APMDD) and Grassroots Global Justice. Photo by Jade Daniels, Grassroots Global Justice.
Two activists, Nyiesha and Carlos, creating protest art in a workshop
Two activists, Nyiesha and Carlos, creating protest art in a workshop
Nyiesha teaching Carlos to screen print in the art space at the convergence center to make the bandanas for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women action at the US Embassy. Photo by Mikaela Curry.
Activists stand in front of a slide presentation about climate emergency, bearing signs for Indigenous sovereignty
Activists stand in front of a slide presentation about climate emergency, bearing signs for Indigenous sovereignty

Further Resources

Carbon Pricing Popular Education Toolkits published by the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Climate Justice Alliance.

CJA is a national alliance of grassroots communities advancing Just Transition solutions, moving from extreme energy to locally-rooted economies.