A National Day of Action to Follow COP23

Climate time capsule dedication rallies planned the day after UN climate talks end

By Connor McGuigan

November 17, 2017


Gan Golan | Photo courtesy of the Sunrise Movement

As the 23rd annual United Nations Climate Change Conference wraps up in Bonn today, Americans are preparing for nationwide rallies at state capitols and city halls to protest the current administration’s lack of climate change leadership.  

Delegates from 195 countries have spent much of the last two weeks in Bonn, Germany, discussing the implementation of the Paris Agreement, which was negotiated during the 2015 conference. Of those 195 countries represented at COP23, the United States is the only nation that has rejected the landmark emissions-reduction agreement.

On Saturday, November 18, one day after the climate talks end, protestors will fan out across the country for a Day of Dedication protest. At each rally, activists will dedicate and seal time capsules that depict the current state of the fight against climate change. The rallies and time capsule project provide young people with a venue to voice their concerns about climate change and hold national and local leaders accountable for inaction. “The purpose is to provide a space for Americans to grapple with this moment of reckoning,” says Varshini Prakash, a Day of Dedication organizer who attended COP23. “To ask ourselves, ‘How do we want to be remembered in this moment?’ and ask our politicians, ‘How do you want to be remembered?’” The capsules will be opened 50 years from now, in November 2067. 

A broad coalition of activist groups, including Sunrise Movement, Powershift Network, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, and Sierra Student Coalition, organized the Day of Dedication. Leaders from these groups are encouraging people in their community networks to contribute letters to the future and objects they “love and are trying to protect” for the time capsules. The capsules are open to contributions from all, but organizers want especially to engage youth and members of disadvantaged communities. “We wanted to create a space where even folks who haven’t been to many protests can take part in an issue that the majority of Americans do care about,” says Karissa Gerhke of Sierra Student Coalition. “Communities of color and working communities are hit first and worst by climate change,” Prakash adds.

Dedication rallies will take place in 23 U.S. cities on Saturday. Prakash helped organize an additional Day of Dedication rally in Bonn at the site of COP23. As a member of the People’s Delegation, a coalition of U.S. climate activists and community leaders who took part in this year’s talks at Bonn, Prakash saw firsthand the Trump administration’s negligence on climate change. At their sole official COP appearance, the official U.S. delegation argued on behalf of the fossil fuel industry and defended President Trump’s stance on climate change. Prakash and fellow activists from the People’s Delegation protested the panel with chants and a walk-out that left half the room empty.

“It’s a disgrace on a global stage,” Prakash says of the Trump administration’s stance on climate change. “We need to make a choice about whether we’re going to let people like Trump and Rex Tillerson take us down a reckless path of destruction, or whether we’re gonna face this and defeat it."

More information about the Day of Dedication rallies can be found at the Climate Legacy Time Capsule Project’s website. Check here to see if there’s an action planned in your area on November 18.