I’ve been concerned since the Paris terrorist attacks occurred that they might distract from the UN climate change conference (COP21), scheduled to take place in a suburb of the city 11-30 to 12-11. French President Hollande said yesterday that the French government’s plan to allow summit protestors in certain areas has been cancelled because of security concerns, and protestors have said they’re going ahead anyway.
Parisians certainly have a right to be concerned about safety and security in these tense, grief-filled days following the attacks that killed 129 people. But all of us also have the right to be equally, if not more concerned about the short- and long-term effects of runaway global climate change.
The website 350.org has a good response to this apparent conflict, calling the upcoming Paris climate summit “in a sense, a peace summit – perhaps the most important peace summit that has ever been held.”
It goes on, “We need global solidarity more than ever right now, and that’s, really, what this movement’s all about. Even as climate change fans the flames of conflict in many parts of the world – through drought, displacement, and other compounding factors – a global movement that transcends borders and cultural differences is rising up to confront this common existential threat. Let’s hang on to that solidarity and love, and learn from it. Especially at a time like this.
Friday night’s events were horrific, and we must clearly and unequivocally condemn such violence. Their aftermath has also been frightening though, and we should stand in equal condemnation of the instinct to meet violence with more violence. It’s a cycle as old as it is ugly: after tragedy comes the rush to judgment, the scapegoating, the xenophobia and Islamophobia, the blame. There’s a real danger here that those already impacted by both the climate crisis and the wars so intimately bound up with it – migrants, refugees, poor communities, and communities of color – will be further marginalized.
We must resist fear and short-sightedness,” and refuse to let our governments “use a moment like this to increase the burden of hatred and fear in the world: sowing suspicion, calling for war, and reducing people’s civil liberties in the name of security. This is a mistake we’ve seen too often before, compounding tragedy with more tragedy.
The Paris Climate Summit, scheduled to begin in just a couple of weeks, will proceed. The government is promising heightened security measures, which is understandable but also worrisome. We don’t yet know what Friday night’s events mean for our work in Paris. The coalition on the ground is committed to working with the French authorities to see if there is a way for the big planned march and other demonstrations to safely go forward. We fully share their concerns about public safety – just as we fully oppose unnecessary crackdowns on civil liberties and minority populations. We know this global movement cannot and will not be stopped.
The Global Climate March – a worldwide day of action scheduled for November 28th and 29th – will also proceed, no matter what. We can think of few better responses to violence and terror than this movement’s push for peace and hope.
We hope you’ll join us at the end of the month. There couldn’t be a more important time to work for climate justice, and the peace it can help bring.
Nicolas Haeringer, November 16, 2015, Actions/Demonstrations”
More on the climate change summit in the next day or two…