Half a Million March in Madrid to Bring Climate Strikes to the COP

7 December 2019

With fists up, banners high, and hearts ablaze with conviction, over 500,000 people took to the streets of Madrid last night to strike for climate action. ECO was on the Paseo del Prado to join the marchers €” led by the Fridays For Future youth movement €” and judging by the emptiness of IFEMA yesterday afternoon, so was most of the COP. 

The massive march, hailed as one of the largest ever public mobilisations in Spain, was one of hundreds of climate strikes around the world this and last Friday to demand increased ambition to address the climate crisis. Ending with a rally at Nuevos Ministerios where civil society delegates collectively read through the People’s Summit 6D Manifesto, the march was a beautiful reminder of the growing diversity of the world’s climate movement. More and more people are demanding real action from their governments on mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage. 

ECO senses something very different in the air at COP during this year of striking for the climate. No longer is the “climate movement” something to be merely nodded to in plenary speeches €” it has taken over the conversation, and its fingerprints are everywhere at IFEMA. Governments are gathered in Madrid just two months after more than 8.7 million people took to the streets for this September’s global climate strikes, marking one of the largest mobilizations in world history. 

The energy and urgency that youth climate strikers have injected into the climate fight worldwide has arrived in full force at the COP. Yesterday, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg joined dozens of youth climate strikers from around the world in a strike action at the COP venue €” and it’s clear the youth movement isn’t going to take inaction kindly.

It should not be forgotten that yesterday also saw a powerful march in Santiago, with thousands demonstrating to mark the climate summit their government abruptly refused to hold after months of preparation. Madrid’s march was led by a Chilean and Indigenous Latin American delegations, and signs stressed the connections and solidarity between people’s movements for climate across the globe. 

From the halls of the UN summit to the streets of central Madrid, the climate movement is making itself heard. And the voices of the generation set to inherit the impacts of climate crisis will not be silenced.

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