December 16, 2019
By: Sarah Goodspeed, Senior Policy Manager

The People United Will Never Be Defeated

El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!

The people united will never be defeated!

At the conclusion of COP25, there is a large sense of disappointment with the progress of negotiations by global leaders, yet a resounding sense of solidarity and determination to continue forward progress by civil society in global solidarity. The undeniable message resonating across communities is that solutions are inevitable. Public will is influencing local and regional decisions, business leaders are stepping up their commitments, climate change is a top priority for voters, and youth are demonstrating in record numbers around the world. Yet, governments beholden to fossil fuel interests continue to drag their feet in coming to agreement on urgent and ambitious action.

I am sitting in the entrance hall that moments earlier was filled with hundreds of youth delegates singing and chanting in the now global tradition of youth strikes, with SustainUS Indigenous youth from across Turtle Island and U.S. occupied territories, Fridays For Future leaders from across the world, and other global partners.

Civil society is NOT defeated by our ineffective negotiators, whose decisions continue to only reinforce the determination of youth to push louder and harder.

Youth are now leading a massive sit-in just outside the conference, joined by hundreds more public supporters.

It is now eerily quiet, yet negotiations have not finished. Most pavilions have closed down, side events and panels have ended, and remaining negotiations, releases, and press announcements continue quietly inside a few conference halls. We’re surrounded by other observers working on their computers and media interviews spotted around the perimeter, like me trying to capture the spirit of the youth strike left lingering over the room while the goosebumps are still fresh. Volunteers carry out potted plants that have decorated the halls as souvenirs. A few party delegates cross the room in small groups, some hurried, others slow, all certainly exhausted after a long uphill battle for policy progress. The Coffee Bike has closed, our central gathering point throughout the week, surrounded by cafe tables and lounge circles for delegates to recharge.

Yet my heart feels so full, holding the words of dozens of new friends and partners around the world leading on action in their communities, stories of terrifying climate impacts and exciting solutions, and the opportunities that lie ahead for a radical transition to a just and sustainable society.

The Climate Action Network is setting up for its final Fossil of the Day ceremony to announce the Colossal Fossil for the party who has stood in the way of progress at COP25, a competitive title with a number of poor actors defending fossil fuels, alongside the Ray of the Year, who have had the most positive impact. The youth who have breathed new life and courage into these negotiations have not worked in vain, and undoubtedly gave most attendees a much-needed jumpstart to remember why we are here and the urgency of the future generations we are obligated to protect.

These messages don’t always translate directly into policy outcomes, but the impact is undeniable and progress is inevitable.

We are all leaving this conference recommitted to double down to act at the local and subnational level in solidarity with frontline communities, and continue pressing our national leadership to turn a new leaf while it is still early enough to avoid the worst impacts.

Upon receiving the Ray of the Year, youth declared, “We are unstoppable, another world is possible!”