From Santiago to Madrid, the world woke up

500,000 people demonstrated in Madrid´s Climate March, closing the first week of COP 25

Climate March in Madrid, Photo: Víctor Barro, Friends of the Earth Spain

In a year marked by climate mobilizations, the people took to the streets once again in Madrid and Santiago against political inaction in the face of the climate and environmental crises. These are demonstrations that unite in one same voice the diversity of the struggles, demanding concrete and ambitious measures based on social justice, equity and the protection of Nature. It is time to act and governments cannot continue delaying year after year the implementation of policies that will help face this global emergency.

The goal of both demonstrations, as well as the slogan ‘From Santiago to Madrid, the world woke up’, is to expose the situation of violence and repression exerted in Chile by Piñera´s administration, as well as to make indigenous struggles and resistance visible. The Climate March took place in the context of the COP 25, reaffirming that the people and the civil society are willing to organize themselves to defend the planet, the present, the future and a just world, as a response to empty speeches and non-binding agreements.

A capitalist and predatory development model based on infinite economic growth is incompatible with planetary boundaries. We need a transition towards sustainable environmental and social models, with less consumption of materials and energy, without exceeding the biophysical limits of the planet. We need to promote a new energy model, disregarding false solutions such as nuclear energy, geoengineering or biofuels such as palm oil.

Once again, this year´s COP is helping the biggest polluters greenwash their activities through corporate sponsorship. Instead of becoming a platform for them, the Spanish government should keep big polluter companies as far away as possible from the COP 25. But the problem is not limited to the UN talks; it is also a reality in our capitals, where the fossil fuel industry and its partners shape the climate policy.

The demonstration in Madrid, which the organizers consider “a big success” and a “historical citizen mobilization” has been supported by over 500,000 people from all parts of the continent and the world, with a strong presence of Latin American and indigenous peoples. When the march ended, organizers Fridays for Future, Alianza por el Clima, Alianza por la Emergencia Climática, 2020 Rebelión por el Clima, the Peoples´ Summit, the Civil Society for Climate Action (SCAC) and Minga Indígena read a short manifesto.

In the afternoon, Madrid was flooded by hundreds of thousands of demonstrators from all regions of the world who chanted “system change, not climate change”, among others from Chile. Indigenous people, youth, women, families and ecofeminist and environmental organizations led this multitudinous demonstration with the banner: “From Santiago to Madrid, the world woke up”. This was a massive mobilization to show that the civil society woke up, that the climate and environmental emergency can no longer be denied and that we need to act and face the crisis.


Brazilian indigenous people defender, Sonia Guajajara; Swedish activist Greta Thunberg; actor and activist Javier Bardem; and leaders from movements and organizations, such as Dipti Bhatnagar from Friends of the Earth International, took the stage.

After reading the manifesto “The World Woke Up Facing A Climate Emergency”, which closed the first part of the demonstration and gave way to artistic performances, the demonstrators highlighted the struggle of the Chilean people: “In #Chile, social and environmental rights are violated with repression, neoliberal policies, land grabbing in Wallmapu and sacrifice areas.”

A key part of the Manifesto highlighted:

“Next year, the Paris Agreement will come into effect. However, many key questions are still unresolved. In addition to setting the norms on accountability and enforcement of commitments (known as the rulebook), COP25 must decisively push for the provision of enough funds and for major improvements to institutions like the Green Fund for the Climate and the Warsaw Mechanism. These would ameliorate the present and future consequences that stem from the burning of fossil fuels.

It is unacceptable that so many governments, political parties and public institutions represent the interests of major companies, banks, and financial markets. Instead, they should defend the greater good, for the people and the planet that sustains us. Confronting the climate emergency is incompatible with fossil fuels receiving hundreds of billions on public subsidies each year. We demand that governments participating in COP25 recognise the current climate inaction and state that the insufficient ambition of their agreements will lead the planet to a disastrous global warming scenario, surpassing the 3.5°C mark.

It is irresponsible that, one year before the beginning of the Paris Agreement application, we still have no mechanism capable of regulating measures for the national commitments to adopt an emissions reduction plan that is compatible with scientific estimates. COP25 must enshrine the will of all countries to elevate the ambition of their agreements ahead of the COP26 in 2020. The European Union and the G-20 must lead this commitment to a greater ambition, especially since the former is now hosting the celebration of the present summit inside its borders.

Additionally, the Spanish government must unequivocally align itself with this calling for greater ambition. This must reflect more demanding measures than the current ones in economic, political, energy, transportation, agricultural, farming, conservation, and international cooperation areas.

Similarly, the ecological transition requires the participation of all citizens in the decision-making process. Real, effective mechanisms for climate policies must include the full participation of the people.”

Greta Thunberg, who stopped school activities each Friday for over a year with her climate strikes, said that while the Fridays for Future mobilizations have multiplied all over the world and have flooded the streets with young people, exposing the climate emergency and demanding a change now, the “climate crisis is still being ignored by those in power.” She called to raise awareness on the thousands of people who are dying today due to climate change and urged governments and other powerful actors to take responsibility for the damage they are causing by not stopping, and instead, deepening, climate change.

Meanwhile, Guajajara highlighted that “we are experiencing a global war against those who defend Mother Earth and life on the planet”. That’s why she said that “it is necessary to decarbonize the minds of the economic powers and governments, and it is necessary to reforest the heart of peoples and restore the spirit of humankind. We don´t have much time. We need to act now”.


(CC) 2019 Real World Radio