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"If governments won't stand for us, we'll stand for ourselves," says 350.org. (Photo: Climate Games)

'We Will Stand for Ourselves': Global Movement Stakes Claim for COP21

'The Paris moment will be defined not by what happens in the negotiating halls, but in the streets of Paris and around the world.'

Deirdre Fulton

Building on the momentum and message of last year's People's Climate March in New York City, activists are vowing to convene during the upcoming COP21 talks in Paris for what campaigners hope will be "the largest mass civil disobedience climate justice action that we have ever seen in Europe."

From a huge march on the eve of the two-week UN climate summit to a mass mobilization on the final day of the conference to decentralized and creative direct actions in Paris and around the world, the events aim to demonstrate the energy and commitment of the people's movement, even as world leaders and corporate interests meet behind closed doors to try to strike a global agreement.

"If enough people agree that it’s time for the world to move in a new direction, and push together, the world will begin to move."
—350.org

"We want to have the last word as the climate talks conclude," 350.org states in its call-to-action for the last day of the summit, December 12. "And we’ll get it by speaking in the language of movements: by putting tens of thousands of people into the streets of Paris, and making sure business as usual cannot proceed as long as world governments fail to do what’s needed."

The 350 statement continues: "The Paris moment will be defined not by what happens in the negotiating halls, but in the streets of Paris and around the world. Politicians aren’t the only ones with power. If enough people agree that it’s time for the world to move in a new direction, and push together, the world will begin to move."

The movement has articulated that its demands include a sustainable energy transformation, justice for frontline communities, and "immediate, urgent and drastic emission reductions."

Beyond marches and rallies, Paris is set to become a playing field for the Climate Games, a global effort supporting acts of creative disobedience on the streets, in public spaces, and in cyberspace during the summit.

Backed by a wide range of grassroots groups including 350.org and Attac France, the Games are the brainchild of London-based artist-activists Isabelle Frémeaux and John Jordan, who say their goal is to "amplify this growing movement for climatic justice" and "highlight and act against the manipulation and engulfment of the negotiations by the power of multinational companies."

Frémeaux and Jordan have dubbed that corporate power machine "the Mesh."

"Manifestations of 'the Mesh'—austerity-dictating politicians, fossil fuel corporations, industry lobbyists, peddlers of false solutions and greenwashers—are converging to solve the climate catastrophe," the Climate Games website declares. "Or so they tell us."

However, the statement continues, "Paris will be a world stage where we, people power, raise the curtain on the smoke and mirrors of false corporate promises and pierce through the Mesh's hold on us."

"Paris will be a world stage where we, people power, raise the curtain on the smoke and mirrors of false corporate promises and pierce through the Mesh's hold on us."
—Climate Games

The Guardian reports Thursday that among the actions will be 10 blockades, themed around 'red lines' which climate campaigners fear negotiators may cross. On the last day of the gathering, thousands of people are expected to surround the Le Brouget summit site with inflatable red lines, each meant to represent a potential deal-breaker—such as equitable climate finance for poorer countries, or meaningful emissions reductions.

"The idea is not to lock the delegates in," Jordan told the Guardian, "but to have acts of civil disobedience that block the streets and infrastructure, if they cross red lines that are minimal necessities for a liveable planet."

"It is going to be the largest mass civil disobedience climate justice action that we have ever seen in Europe," added Prayal Parekh, of 350.org. "We’re sensing a lot of excitement and appetite. It’s going to be colorful."

Before Paris, however, there will be another opportunity to demonstrate collective desire for a global paradigm shift on climate.

This weekend, under the banner of Reclaim Power, groups and individuals will mobilize worldwide around the following demands:

  1. Ban new dirty energy projects
  2. End government subsidies and public handouts to dirty energy companies.
  3. Stop excessive energy consumption by corporations and global elites.
  4. Redirect and mobilize public finance to ensure people’s universal access to energy and make the complete shift to public and community/decentralized renewable and clean energy systems as soon as possible.
  5. Divest from fossil fuel corporations.

Follow those actions on Twitter this October 9 and 10:


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