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Protesters around the world disrupted Black Friday shopping in order to draw attention to climate change days before the United Nations met to discuss the issue in Madrid.
The retail holiday saw protests in a long list of countries — including France, Germany, the United States — with some activists entering stores and holding mock funerals. Near Paris, climate demonstrators blocked a shopping mall and gathered in from of Amazon’s headquarters to protest over-production they say is killing the planet.
To many activists, Black Friday is the epitome of this shift, a purely commercial event designed to boost U.S. retailers ahead of the Christmas holidays, the symbol of capitalism run amok.
“We are living in a system of endless consumerism,” the group Extinction Rebellion NYC tweeted on Friday. “Earth cannot sustain that, especially as we accelerate towards climate and ecological catastrophe.”
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The group posted photos and videos purportedly showing activists protesting the holiday.
Protesters also reportedly shut down streets in Vancouver, Canada for a mock funeral procession.
The Sunrise Movement, a group that’s helped promote the Green New Deal, swarmed the large Water Tower Place shopping mall in Chicago.
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In Washington, D.C., actress Jane Fonda led yet another protest as part of a series called “Fire Drill Fridays.” In a post retweeted by Fonda, the group cliamed that “38 people were arrested demanding food justice.” Activists also reportedly planned to hold a “Black Friday Funeral for the Future” on Capitol Hill in order to “eulogize and mourn all that has been lost and all that is threatened by the climate crisis.
Climate change protests seemed to intensify in the fall with thousands skipping school during September’s climate strike. Activist Greta Thunberg also appeared at a United Nations meeting where she vehemently denounced politicians for inaction on climate change.
And last week, nearly 260 groups sent a letter requesting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Ill., pursue policies like the Green New Deal instead of “incremental or isolated policy tweaks.”
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According to The Washington Post, the group Extinction Rebellion held a hunger strike in an attempt to force the speaker into a video-recorded meeting. When they realized she was planning to leave D.C., the protesters attempted to storm past her office’s entrance and into a broader room where her chief of staff sat.
Also last week, climate protesters delayed a Harvard-Yale football game when they occupied the field and demanded the Ivy League schools divest from the fossil fuel industry.
The disruptions will likely continue as the United Nations meets to discuss the issue in Madrid on Monday.
The United Nations offered what it called “bleak” findings Tuesday as it warned that the world was headed toward global “extinction” and would need to increase its efforts “fivefold” if nations wanted to reach the temperature reduction goal outlined in the Paris climate agreement.
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The United States recently filed paperwork to officially remove itself from the multilateral agreement. Conservatives, meanwhile, have warned about economic consequences of large-scale reform and pointed to failed, historical climate predictions as reasons for avoiding drastic change.
According to AP, Quang Paasch of the activist group Fridays for Future said governments attending next week’s annual climate conference should keep in mind the goals of the 2015 Paris accord, which set a target of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit). “We need to keep taking to the streets, we need to defend Paris.”
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In Berlin, about two dozen environmental activists jumped into the chilly waters of the Spree river in front of parliament to protest a government-backed package of measures they say won’t be enough to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. The package was blocked Friday by Germany’s upper house, which represents the country’s 16 states.
Later, tens of thousands of students rallied in front of the Brandenburg Gate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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