BREAKING: “CODE RED!” Activists Unfurl Massive Banner at NYC UN HQ to Demand Real Climate Action Ahead of Glasgow Climate Summit

70 foot wide call-to-action banner deployed across four lanes of Manhattan traffic highlights critical stakes for humanity as nations gather for most important climate talks since Paris 

*High resolution photos available here

New York – This morning, a team of climate justice advocates delivered an urgent message to political and economic leaders: The time for action on climate change is now.

Risking arrest, dozens of activists deployed a 70 foot wide banner reading “Code Red” across Manhattan’s First Avenue, briefly blocking the entrance to the United Nations New York headquarters. ‘Code Red for humanity’ is the assessment of our climate crisis delivered by the UN Secretary General following the recent release of the alarming and authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th Assessment Report. The message is aimed at global political and economic leaders preparing to gather in Glasgow for the UN climate conference, COP26. The UN, and an overwhelming consensus of international climate scientists, have emphatically declared that the impacts of human-caused climate change are already wreaking havoc across the world and that only drastic measures to end the use of fossil fuels can now prevent the most catastrophic consequences of massive human suffering and irreversible ecological destruction. 

Rainforest Action Network joins a global network of allies demanding immediate action from the Glasgow Conference of Parties (COP26) for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) toward meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C. This year’s climate summit will focus on finance. Climate advocates insist finance is not just critical to support developing countries to deal with extreme climate events and transition to a clean energy future, but also that it is critical that banks and insurers immediately cut off the money pipeline supporting fossil fuel expansion and industry-driven deforestation. 

“The time for business as usual is over. We have arrived at a historic moment of truth by which future generations will judge the actions of decision makers today,” said Ginger Cassady, Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network. “Tens of millions of human lives and the ability of our planet to continue to support thriving human societies are at stake. World leaders and corporate power players must find the courage to end our reckless dependence on fossil fuels and prioritize keeping forests standing and respecting Indigenous land rights. Major banks and consumer brands must immediately withdraw support for clients and suppliers driving deforestation and fossil fuel development.” 

The landmark IPCC study warns of increasingly extreme weather events across the world, including deadly heatwaves, severe droughts and violent flooding. Indeed, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that ​​the U.S. has endured an unprecedented 18 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the first nine months of this year, causing massive loss of human life and hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure damage. 

In its Special Report on Climate Change and Land, the IPCC confirmed that strong and organized local and Indigenous communities are a key defense against deforestation and ecological collapse. Indigenous and local communities protect land, culture and livelihoods, and have done so for countless generations. Despite stewarding only approximately 20% of the earth’s land, Indigenous People protect 80% of global biodiversity.

“How many more talks and empty, non-binding promises in carbon-intensive conferences from the world’s leaders still fall within morality as the planet burns, the seas rise and people die while scientific reports outline our doom as a species? The continued failure to act, while sticking to economies based on extraction and carbon intensive comforts is stealing a viable home from future generations,” said Tara Houska, tribal attorney and founder of Indigenous-led Giniw Collective. “And while the climate crisis grows worse and worse, nation states around the globe criminalize protest and target Indigenous Peoples, the holders of the majority of earth’s remaining biodiversity. Anything less than substantive, major action on climate at this point should be recognized for what it is— political posturing based in human greed and complete lack of empathy or reality.” 

The IPCC report explicitly calls for an immediate transition away from a fossil fuel economy. Even the conservative International Energy Agency (IEA) has made clear that in order to salvage a livable future, countries should end all new fossil fuel exploration and production and stop fossil fuel subsidies. And yet, Wall Street and banks around the globe continue to pump billions into the fossil fuel sector, actually increasing their fossil financing since the Paris Agreement was adopted. 

“Chase bank alone has provided $317 billion in financing to the fossil fuel industry since the Paris Accords. Big money doesn’t care about our wellbeing. They will continue to fund climate disaster until we hit their bottom line. It’s time to fight for a fossil free future,” said Adam Neville, 19, with the Future Coalition, a national network of youth climate organizations calling for a fossil free future and national protests at Chase Bank on October 29. 

“Net Zero by 2050” has become a common claim from government and private sector players in the lead up to COP26. However, climate movement leaders agree that net zero by 2050 is “too little too late.” By 2050, carbon emissions may have already reached levels that could spark catastrophic impacts. 

As the stakes continue to rise, climate justice activists are participating in unprecedented numbers on climate. Over 900 arrests were made this year in northern Minnesota resisting Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline. From October 11-15, over 450 people were arrested in Washington DC calling on the Biden Administration to declare a climate emergency and take stronger action to end our economy’s unchecked use of fossil fuels, and dozens of arrests of climate protesters have occurred in New York just this past week.