XR Boston and Scientist Rebellion Protest Decades of Climate Inaction & Demand Action at COP28 Climate Conference

Beginning at noon on Thursday November 30, climate activists with Extinction Rebellion (XR) Boston and Scientist Rebellion (SR) assembled at the Massachusetts State House to protest the failure of national leaders to respond to the climate emergency and call for mass mobilization of everyone in society for climate action. The protest coincides with the start of the international COP28 climate conference in Dubai, a conference which activists are concerned will further obfuscate, delay, and derail necessary action on climate change. From the State House, activists walked through the streets of downtown Boston, flyering and engaging passersby in conversation surrounding the climate emergency and the faliures of previous international climate conferences.

In our lifetimes, the Earth has become warmer than any time in the last 100,000 years. Climate scientists have identified this as the result of human actions, particularly the emission of greenhouse gasses. Changes to the global climate such as these threaten to wreak greater and greater havoc on human society and animal life, with rising sea levels, the spread of diseases, unstable access to food and water, and mass extinctions.

According to climate activists, these challenges do not result from a lack of knowledge, but from a lack of action and effective leadership. During the rally, Johanna Ray Vollhardt, a professor at Clark University in Worcester and a member of Scientist Rebellion, read an open letter from scientists and academics around the world who are urging everyone to engage in collective climate action. “The science is clear: we need urgent climate action right now to prevent untold suffering," she announced, "We have the knowledge, and the solutions are available. But the window of opportunity is rapidly closing, and scientists and academics are calling on everyone to do their part and become a climate activist or advocate.”

In 1995—nearly three decades ago—the first UN 'Conference of the Parties' (COP) convention took place, its aim being to "prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."[1] Since then, there have been nearly 30 such conventions—and yet the threat of climate change, activists say, is larger than it has ever been. Monty Neill, the day's emcee, opened by saying, "National leaders have failed 27 times to address the ecological crisis. We are here to demand they do not fail us a 28th time. We have little faith they will meet the needs of the people and the planet, so we also promise we will escalate our struggle, forcing them to act or step aside." Speakers expressed dismay that previous COP conventions failed to generate substantial, legally binding commitments to address climate change. The direct result of such failures has been woefully insufficient action to reduce emissions and combat warming, claim XR activists.

Activists are concerned that the climate convention—hosted in Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates—will be influenced by its host country's historic reliance on oil and gas. Indeed, before the convention started, leaked documents revealed plans by the convention's president, and head of UAE oil company ADNOC, to leverage the convention in order to push oil and gas trades with visiting nations.[2] XR Boston spokesperson Jamie McGonagill commented, "Allowing Sultan Al Jaber, the CEO of one of the world's largest fossil fuel companies, to preside over UN climate negotiations is beyond negligent. It steps confidently into the realm of criminally subversive. By selecting him as the president for COP28, the UN has revealed that they do not stand on the side of our collective future." XR activists say they are protesting in the face of the threat that COP28 will merely delay the radical and decisive action required to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. "I am furious that our world leaders continue to avoid drastic action to stop ongoing devastation everywhere," said XR activist Ruth Faas.

At the State House, Thursday's protesters joined with climate activists participating in an ongoing Stand-Out to pressure the Massachusetts government to ban new fossil fuel infrastructure.[3] The stand-out—which has occurred every day the State House has been open since June 5, 2023—is motivated by the same concerns as those driving Thursday's protestors, urgent concerns surrounding the inaction and lack of leadership by government officials.


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