September 20, New York – Thousands of people came together in New York City’s Central Park today to call on world leaders attending Tuesday’s UN Climate Summit to stop the clock on climate change. Campaigners with Oxfam America and the tcktcktck campaign formed a giant human sculpture – the shape of the earth trapped inside of an hourglass with the earth dissolving like sand.
This striking event comes two days before heads of state will gather at the UN Climate Summit, where Oxfam hopes they will send a strong public message of their intention to deliver a deal when they meet again in Copenhagen in December.
“Thousands of people came out today to call on world leaders to stop the clock on climate change,” said Vicky Rateau, Oxfam America’s climate change campaign manager. “They represent millions more around the world who want urgent action.”
Around the world, climate change is set to threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions – if not billions – of people. Urgent action is needed to not only reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions but also help communities on the front lines adapt.
“When climate change makes seasons less predictable, storms more frequent and weather conditions more difficult to manage, it is the poorest people who suffer most and are least prepared to adapt,” said Vicky Rateau, Oxfam America’s climate change campaign manager. “This leads to deeper poverty, more migration, more conflict and a less stable world.”
Two women who have witnessed the effects of climate change first hand – in Mississippi and the Cook Islands – spoke at the Central Park event today.
“My front lawn is an eroding shoreline and the traditional calendar for planting and harvest of our crops is no more,” said Ulamila Kurai Wragg of the Rangiatea Village in the Cook Islands. “I want my children to have a home, not any home, but this island that I call home.”
Sharon Hanshaw of Biloxi, Mississippi said, “Hurricane Katrina showed that it only takes one storm to decimate entire communities. And Katrina also showed how the poorest communities bear the biggest burden of climate change.”
Momentum is growing towards a new global climate deal in Copenhagen in December 2009. Climate change groups are calling on heads of state to show their commitment by making a promise to go to Copenhagen themselves at the UN Climate Change Summit on Tuesday.
“This week we’re not expecting big announcements but we are looking for a change in the status quo of the negotiations,” said Rateau. “Leaders in Copenhagen must deliver a fair, ambitious and binding climate deal that curbs global warming and catalyzes a new global green economy that will be the foundation of international security and long-term economic prosperity.”
Today’s event was a TckTckTck campaign event organized by Oxfam in collaboration with Greenpeace, 350.org, NYPIRG, Realizing Rights, US Climate Action Network, 1Sky, Energy Action Coalition, Sustain US, World Wildlife Fund and Avaaz.
Oxfam International is a founding member and a leading organization in the tcktcktck campaign, an unprecedented alliance of labor, environmental, development and faith groups created to bring about massive popular mobilization on climate change at this crucial time (tcktcktck.org).
The human sculpture was choreographed and directed by Christopher Caines and conceived by Christopher Caines, Stuart McWilliam and Nicky Wimble.
Note: Still photos and videos of today’s event in Central Park are available from the contacts listed below.