More than half a million protesters attended the March for Climate in Madrid this friday. The Swedish activist Greta Thunberg was leading the crowd. The protest took place while negotiators from all around the world are defining the last details of the Paris Agreement at the UN climate summit COP25.
“Protect the planet, protect our lives”. “We are heading towards climate chaos”. “S.O.S”. “We have no time to lose”. “There is no planet B”. These are just some of the slogans that appeared at Friday’s March for Climate in the streets of central Madrid. Protesters walked from Atocha to Nuevos Ministerios, closing traffic to one of the busiest streets of the city.
Besides the students from Fridays for Future another 850 civic and interests groups took part in the protest. “I am very happy that so many people heard our plea, showed up and supported our fight for climate. I brought my parents and even my grandparents came along. I saw my teacher with his family marching. There are representatives of the unions, NGOs, scientific groups, political parties and also interests groups. I am also very enthusiastic that so many older people joined us and marched with us,” said Martha Fernández, a local high school striker.
Probably the most famous protester, the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, arrived to Madrid by train on Friday. Early in the morning she joined fellow strikers from Fridays for Future at the silent protest which took place right in the middle of a conference hall where UN climate summit was happening. Her presence attracted big attention from journalists and politicians at COP25.
Before the march Greta told reporters at the press conference that she would be happy if she did not have to strike anymore. “It is not a sustainable solution that we do not go to school. We gained momentum in Sweden and around the world, but it did not reflect in political action. Emissions are rising, people are dying as consequences of climate change. I sincerely hope that COP25 will lead to something concrete and that the people in power grasp the urgency of the climate crisis.”
She added that although it might seem that the movement gained a lot of attention, looking at it from a different perspective she feels like they did not achieve anything. After the press conference Thunberg joined other protesters in the streets. She failed to finish the march because of security reasons and had to be escorted in a car to the final destination at Nuevos Ministerios.
Another celebrity that joined the march was the actor Javier Bardem. He called on politicians to take immediate action. He was specific in his calling and named two concrete people, the United States president Donald Trump and the mayor of Madrid José Luis Martínez-Almeida. He called both of them stupid. “Trump is stupid because he withdrew from Paris agreement and Almedia is stupid because he wants to allow cars with high emissions in the centre of Madrid,” Bradem added that “we are experiencing the most critical moments of our history. It is a fact that the planet is warming and we have only 10 years to stop climate change.”
Although Thunberg and Bardem attracted the most attention, the march was all about the unknown protesters and strikers who came to Madrid from all around the world. One of them was Ben Kutz from Munich, Germany. “We need a change and we need the politicians to see that. We do not want them to avoid the climate crisis. I am really surprised that so many people joined the March for climate today. I know that the political process is really slow, nevertheless I think it is important to show that we are here and we are demanding them to take action,” said Kutz. When asked about the German climate change policy he replied: “I think that no country in the world is doing enough. Even though I think we are on the right side of history, we could get out of coal even faster and reach for electric mobility sooner.”
The March for climate culminated around 9 pm at Nuevos Ministerios. Spanish band Amaral and musicians Birch, Macaco and others performed for thousands of people who took part in the protest. Local media called it, the biggest rally in modern history of the Spanish capital.
The article is written by Petr Vodsedalek
To strengthen climate journalism around the globe, the FES Media Fellowship cooperates with Climate Tracker and supports four young journalists, Andrea A. Gálvezfrom Spain, Kartik Chandramouli from India, Petr Vodsedalekfrom Czech Republic and Leopold Obi from Kenya who participate in this program. They receive a climate media training, report from COP25 and take part in FES events as well.
More about FES@COP25: www.fes.de/cop25
Arbeitseinheit: Internationale Entwicklungszusammenarbeit | Globale Politik und Entwicklung