The Creative, Colorful Climate Protests of Cancun 2010 (Photos)


The climate talks in Cancun (COP16) generally caused less of a ripple in the international media than its high-stakes predecessor in Copenhagen did. Coverage of Cancun was typically prefaced with some variation of the phrase "low expectations". And while the conference may have at least met or exceeded those expectations, it's hard to argue that a whole hell of a lot was accomplished in terms of reducing worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Which is why the most notable thing to arise out of these negotiations might have been the colorful, clever protests. The above slideshow features the work of freelance photographer Mark Malijan of the Earth Journalism Network, and it showcases the many different attempts activists made at pressuring nations to act on climate change. And yes, that's infamous climate skeptic Lord Monckton arguing with a man in a polar bear outfit.

Here's the LA Times reporting on the various modes of activism present at the conference:

More than 190 nations sent some 9,000 government officials, scientists and technicians to Cancun over the last two weeks, but the diplomatic arm-wrestling yielded little progress. That didn't sit well with thousands of environmentalists and social activists, many of them from California, who converged on the seaside resort to pressure negotiators.

... In Cancun, if the delegates negotiated behind closed doors, environmental groups made up for it by vying to stage the most creative "photo ops" to capture media attention.

Among them was the demonstration of La Via Campesina, a social justice group that included Mayans from the Yucatan province around Cancun, and activists from both developing and industrial countries. About 1,000 protesters-- men, women and children, many in colorful outfits--carried signs promoting indigenous rights and condemning efforts to sell carbon credits from forests. Music from a steel drum and chants of "Si, se puede!" (Yes, we can!) punctuated the march.

The Times also interviewed climate activist extraordinaire Bill McKibben about his thoughts on the conference, and his group's actions in Cancun. His response: The negotiations were "shrouded in a fog of unreality. The biggest and most powerful nations on Earth simply aren't paying attention to physics and chemistry ... the grassroots movement to demand real action will continue to mushroom. We're not big enough yet to beat the fossil fuel industry and its allies, but we're gaining."

More on Climate Protests
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