“The Global South must urgently adapt to the climate emergency so that it can protect its people from a crisis they did nothing to cause,” said Extinction Rebellion. “But it can’t do this while it remains heavily indebted.”
A week of direct action targeting the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group continued in Washington, D.C. on Thursday as protesters interrupted regularly scheduled summit business to demand the financial institutions cancel Global South debt and stop fueling the climate crisis now.
Members of Glasgow Actions Team and other groups drowned out a Thursday afternoon press conference by leaders from Group of 20 nations by shouting, banging makeshift drums, blowing airhorns and vuvuzelas, and generally rousing a racket.
“We’re tired of the World Bank defending their funding for fossil fuels,” Glasgow Actions Team director Andrew Nazdin said in a statement. “We’re tired of their false promises. So today we’re drowning out the press conference to say that it’s time for the bank to stop funding fossil fuels and throw their full strength behind a just transition to clean energy.”
Drowning out the World Bank press conference (they funded $14.8 billion in fossil fuel projects since the Paris Accords). We hear we impeded communication – win! #ForPeopleForPlanet. pic.twitter.com/Ct02MMVjp7
— Donna (@DonnaShaunesey) October 13, 2022
Earlier on Thursday, activists from the D.C., Philadelphia, and New York branches of Extinction Rebellion joined with peace activists from CodePink and other organizations in demanding the IMF and World Bank cancel developing world debt. Activists blocked entrances to conference buildings and staged sit-ins where they beat drums and chanted “cancel the debt.”
“The Global South must urgently adapt to the climate emergency so that it can protect its people from a crisis they did nothing to cause,” tweeted Extinction Rebellion Washington, D.C. “But it can’t do this while it remains heavily indebted. Failure to cancel the debt = murder.”
BREAKING: XR rebels with @DebtforClimate disrupted the @WorldBank & @IMFNews annual meeting. Both organizations have enslaved the Global South in a vicious debt trap, forcing its people to bear the full horrors of the climate & ecological crisis. #CancelTheDebt NOW! pic.twitter.com/32IXR6KfQy
— Extinction Rebellion Washington DC (@xr_dc_) October 13, 2022
— CODEPINK (@codepink) October 13, 2022
On Wednesday evening, more than 100 bicyclists with ShutDownDC and more than 10 allied groups took to the streets of the nation’s capital for a rush-hour demonstration calling out the IMF and World Bank’s failure to adequately address the climate and debt crises.
“The World Bank has poured $15 billion into fossil fuels since the Paris climate accord, and the IMF imposes a global economic order that favors corporate power over human needs,” said Basav Sen, a member of ShutDownDC and Arm in Arm D.C.
Glasgow Actions Team activists projected signs that said things like ‘Get fossil fuel loans here,’ & ‘$15 billion for fossil fuels’ onto the facade of the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., to protest its seemingly indifferent attitude toward the climate crisis. pic.twitter.com/smpqj4CQfa
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) October 13, 2022
“It’s fitting that people on bicycles, on wheelchairs, on foot, and other forms of nonmotorized transport are confronting them as they try to celebrate,” Sen added. “It’s a beautiful metaphor of people power versus fossil-fueled corporate power.”
Another bicycle protester told Agence France-Presse: “We believe that the World Bank and the IMF must immediately cancel all debt. That is particularly important for countries in the Global South. We believe that they must pay climate and colonial reparations to those same countries.”
Some activists took aim at World Bank President David Malpass, who recently refused to acknowledge that burning fossil fuels causes climate change. Climate campaigners, U.S. Democratic lawmakers, and others have called for the World Bank to fire Malpass, who has since attempted to walk back his comments.
VIDEO: Activists on bicycles gather outside the locations of annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington DC to protest the funding of fossil fuels and to call for support for countries affected by climate change. pic.twitter.com/qp2QGSmSw4
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) October 13, 2022
Earlier this week, CodePink activists crashed a debt restructuring panel to hang a banner demanding that the international financial institutions “cancel all debts.”
Meanwhile, activists also staged demonstrations around the world, from London to communities throughout Africa, to denounce IMF and World Bank policies and actions.
More direct action is set to go down on Friday, dubbed “World Bank Action Day.” At noon local time, Glasgow Actions Team will lead a protest outside World Bank headquarters in D.C. to denounce the institution’s continued financing of fossil fuel projects.
Let’s make Day 3 of #ForPeopleForPlanet the best yet! Show up by 8am for breakfast burritos, music, dancing, art, bubbles, free plants, and much more. #FireMalpass #CancelTheDebt pic.twitter.com/OXfZfw9S97
— ShutDownDC (@ShutDown_DC) October 13, 2022
“Despite its climate pledges to prioritize clean energy projects and green economies,” the group said, “the bank has provided billions in public financing for overseas coal, oil, and gas projects and enabling policy reforms.”