Lima COP20 Climate Summit Marked By Protests, Publicity Stunts and PR Promises

Lima COP20 Climate Summit Marked By Protests, Publicity Stunts and PR Promises
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An estimated 15,000 people marched through the streets of Lima yesterday in the People’s Climate March, demanding a shift to 100 percent clean energy by 2050. Earlier in the day, a group of 100 children delivered a petition signed by 2.2 million people to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala and COP President Manuel Pulgar Vidal in Lima.

The people’s message couldn’t be any clearer — leave the fossil fuels in the ground and build a just, fair and equitable future using clean technology — as the momentum continues to build following the People’s Climate March in New York City in September which drew over 400,000 citizens calling for climate action.

Avaaz campaign director Iain Keith said about the march today:

“The public call for 100% clean energy has gone mainstream, and finally leaders are starting to respond with ambitious targets. Now, from Lima to Paris, Ministers must defend and deliver what the world needs: firm commitments to totally end carbon pollution.”


Image credit: Avaaz


Image credit: Danielle Villasana/Avaaz

View more images from today’s march and petition event on Avaaz’s Flickr page.

The push to get the world off fossil fuels has created panic in the oil, gas and coal sectors, and industry presence at the COP20 negotiations has demonstrated the desperate efforts that fossil fuel interests will go to protect their profits.

On Monday, I attended a side event featuring Shell and Edison Electric Institute executives who promised they back efforts to reduce carbon emissions while proudly extolling their membership in the controversial corporate bill mill ALEC which works to undermine such action. Earlier, a Shell-sponsored appearance by Lord Nicholas Stern touting carbon capture and storage (CCS) drew the ire of youth climate activists who overwhelmed the small room in protest (see coverage by DeSmog Canada’s Carol Linnitt). 


Image credit: Geoffrey Supran via Twitter.

There have been several boosters of carbon capture and storage besides Lord Stern, but none so loud and proud as Shell executives in attendance.

Jamie Henn, strategy and communications director for 350.org, told DeSmog: 

CCS is a smokescreen. The fossil fuel industry can run from divestment, but they can’t hide from the reality that 80% of their reserves need to stay underground. Here in Lima, world leaders are finally talking about targets that are in the realm of what’s needed, namely going to zero carbon by 2050. If we’re going to meet that goal, we need to start now. If Big Oil wants to research CCS, fine, but that shouldn’t distract us from the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels and towards 100% renewable energy.”

Denial-a-Peru-Za

On Thursday, the corporate-funded climate denial outfit CFACT will put on its annual circus masked as a press conference. (Check out a photo of CFACT’s announcement which is so loaded with errors and misinformation it hurts to read.)

Earlier in the week, CFACT risked the life of a U.S. astronaut in a paragliding stunt to (not effectively) fly a ‘No New Treaty’ banner. It was reminiscent of another embarrassing aerial display CFACT put on when Lord Monckton skydived into COP 17 in Cancun in hilarious fashion, and followed CFACT’s other failed banner stunt this year in New York. One wonders if they’ll continue these ‘Jackass’ auditions in perpetuity.

Greenpeace Goofed

In the realm of COP 20 publicity stunts, while CFACT‘s received zero attention, a major green group got lots of attention for all the wrong reasons.

Greenpeace showed uncharacteristically poor judgment in trespassing on Peru’s historical Nazca lines, a UNESCO world heritage site, to place a banner. The group quickly apologized, but the Peruvian government remains deeply offended and concerned with the potentially long-lasting damage caused by the stunt. Now Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo will fly to Lima to attempt to avoid further consequences.

On the positive side, there are creative skits put on every day during COP 20, like this light-hearted display I stumbled upon yesterday featuring the Korean youth delegation singing a ditty they wrote about the need for climate action:  


Image credit: Brendan DeMelle

There’s plenty more on the docket over the final days of the Lima talks, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arriving today, and much work remaining for the delegates to cobble together a working draft text that will pave the road to the Paris summit in December 2015. Now that I’ve recovered from a bout with stomach upset that has affected a lot of attendees, I’m looking forward to getting back in action today. Stay tuned.

Blog image credit: Avaaz via Flickr

Lima COP20 Climate Summit Marked By Protests, Publicity Stunts and PR Promises
Brendan is Executive Director of DeSmog. He is also a freelance writer and researcher specializing in media, politics, climate change and energy. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, Grist, The Washington Times and other outlets.

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