Before dawn Monday, twenty Greenpeace activists from Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Chile, Germany, Italy, and Spain hiked through the sparse and arid desert of southern Peru and unfurled a cloth message next to the Nazca Lines — the famous geoglyphs that UNESCO designated a World Heritage Site in 1994.
Spelled out in bright yellow letters, the group's statement read: "Time for Change!" and "The Future is Renewable,"
The Nazca site lies 250 miles south of the capital Lima, where environment ministers from around the world are meeting for the annual UN climate change negotiations.
On Monday, Greenpeace unfurled a banner urging action on climate change next to Peru's Nazca Lines landmark. (Image by Rodrigo Abd/AP)
In response to the activism, Peru's government pledged Wednesday to sue the group for "attacking archaeological monuments," according to the BBC.
Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, a Peruvian deputy culture minister, said: "You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years."
"They haven't touched the hummingbird figure" he added, "but now we have an additional figure created by the footsteps of these people."
Greenpeace activists walk towards the historic landmark of the hummingbird in Nazca in Peru. (Photo by Rodrigo Abd/AP)
Environmental and indigenous rights lawyer, Dr. Henry Carhuatocto, said: "Greenpeace's peaceful protest in the area of the Nazca Lines was to draw attention to the impacts of climate change and honor the historical legacy of the Nazca people, who lived respectfully and symbiotically with their environment. Consequently, since their cultural heritage was not affected, there was no legal offence."
Greenpeace told VICE News Wednesday that its staff was meeting with Peruvian authorities to clarify the reasons for the protest and the details of its activities in the Nazca Lines area.
Greenpeace activists arrange the letters into the message "Time for Change: The Future is Renewable" next to the hummingbird geoglyph in Nazca, Peru. (Photo by Rodrigo Abd/AP)
By Friday, diplomats in Lima are expected to hammer out the framework for an international climate change agreement, which world leaders have pledged to approve in Paris at the end of next year.
Speaking from the Philippines, where close to 1.7 million people were evacuated due to Typhoon Hagupit, Greenpeace International Director Kumi Naidoo said: "While one of the largest evacuations in peacetime history was underway here in the Philippines to clear a path for Typhoon Hagupit, a week of talks in Lima has simply not shown enough progress."
Naidoo said the Philippines has been hit three years in a row by extreme weather events, demonstrating the need for greater action on climate change.
"Ministers must examine their conscience and find the energy to put us on the path to end the fossil fuel age and move toward a 100 percent renewable energy future," he said.
Follow Robert S. Eshelman on Twitter: @RobertSEshelman