Marching for climate action in Peru

Thousands hit the streets of Lima demanding real action on climate change as world leaders gather at a crucial summit.

Melchora Surco Remachi and Faustina Nununcca travelled from Cusco to attend the rally [Danielle Villasana/Al Jazeera]
Melchora Surco Remachi and Faustina Nununcca travelled from Cusco to attend the rally [Danielle Villasana/Al Jazeera]

Lima, Peru  Travelling from all corners of the world for the Peoples Climate March”, thousands gathered in Lima to protest against climate change while UN delegates continued to negotiate a global climate deal.

Marchers weaved through colourful groups of activists, students, environmentalists, musicians, artists and labourers on Wednesday. Some estimates said 20,000 people hit the streets of Peru’s capital.

Al Jazeera asked climate demonstrators what has been accomplished so far, what work remains to be done, and what they hope for the future.

Atoc Kkunturkanki Wamani, 46, Huancavelica, Peru
Atoc Kkunturkanki Wamani [Omar Lucas/Al Jazeera]

Wamani came to take part in a traditional Peruvian ceremony called pachamama“, a Quechua word that means “Mother Earth”, where people give offerings to the Earth. 

I came here so that people would become aware of the ancestral customs of our villages and to take back our cultural identity, Wamani said. Huancavelica is one of many Andean towns that has preserved its ancient culture. I have come with my brethren from this village because only together can we save the Earth. 

Zodwa Rannyadi, 44, South Africa
South African Zodwa Rannyadi [Omar Lucas/Al Jazeera]

Rannyadi came to Lima as an observer of COP20. From her experience listening to the delegations, Rannyadi is not hopeful that an agreement will be made anytime soon. She says it seems that delegates just repeat everything.

Sometimes I feel so angry because you know, its a waste of our tax money. Instead of wasting the money, they could have been helping communities with it. 

Rannyadi says that women in South Africa want to work in agriculture but are unable to because of climate change. We really want them to come to an agreement which will accommodate everybody as a whole community of countries. 

Ana Cristina Torres Pancar, 5, Peru
Ana Cristina Torres Pancar [Danielle Villasana/Al Jazeera]

Pancar arrived at the march late because she was in class; and, she says she came because her parents brought her. 

If they destroy everything we may not have the North or South poles any more. If they cut down the trees, they cant grow any more. 

Pancar says she hopes that everything changes because greenhouse gases can make the trees disappear and they could die. And, trees give us shade.

Torie Feldman, 22, California, US

Torie Feldman [Omar Lucas/Al Jazeera]

“I  am here because I want to be a huge force in this already massive movement,” Feldman says.

In talking about past and future changes, Feldman recalled from history that when a photograph was taken of the Earth in the 1970s, it made people realise how precious it is.

“I know that at least in my lifetime the people that I’ve seen and the voices that I’ve heard have become more and more clear and more and more full of passion and purpose and intelligence.”

Feldman says even if governments make bad decisions, we can turn it around. “I hope that people wake up from this slumber that’s causing the Earth harm because in doing the Earth harm we are doing ourselves harm. And, in that awakening I want for everyone to truly respect one another including the land.”

Saktiman Ghosh, 63, India
Saktiman Ghosh [Omar Lucas/Al Jazeera]

As a member of the International Federation of Hawker and Urban Poor, Ghosh travelled to Lima to support the Climate Green Fund, which was created as a way to financially assist developing countries to adapt to climate change.

We need it now, says Ghosh, explaining the fund is needed not only to curb carbon rates but also to protect street vendors social security. 

The street vendors are the most vulnerable people with respect to climate change. We demand climate justice now.

Robert Young, “Tezka”, Peruvian Amazon

Robert Young, or ‘Tezka’ [Danielle Villasana/Al Jazeera]

Tezka said he came to the march to above all represent the voices of those who couldnt make the journey from his home of Iquitos, located in the Peruvian Amazon, to the capital city.

Tezka, who studied ecology, says he came to help defend the Earth. I ultimately want peoples consciences to wake up. Water is the fountain of life. Why do we keep destroying it if we can avoid it? We have to take care of our water, we have to take care of our food source, we have to take care of nature. 

About the progress made over the course of 20 years of climate talks, Tezka says little has been achieved. Just more pollution and more pollution. 

Pieter Jan De Bondt, 25, and Floris Ponsaerts, 24, Belgium
Pieter Jan De Bondt, left, and Floris Ponsaerts [Danielle Villasana/Al Jazeera]

De Bondt and Ponsaerts are travelling throughout South America. Convinced by their friend, who worked to help mobilise people from Perus villages to attend the march in Lima, De Bondt and Ponsaerts decided to stay to be part of it.

“He really talked a lot about it and so we thought it was important to be here today, to show support and to make our point stronger. The more people, the stronger the point that we are trying to make will be,” says Ponsaerts.

“I hope that they make up a good draft for Paris in 2015, and that they take action instead of just doing nothing. I don’t think that they are doing anything useful right now, they should do something,” says Jan De Bondt.

“Especially being from Europe, it’s a good sign that we are here because there is a need for more honest realisation. We are the big polluters so I think it’s important that we make a fair draft for the poor countries as well, like Peru.”

Source : Al Jazeera

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