Climate Justice Advocates Say COP21 Mobilization in Paris More Important Than Ever
'We can think of few better responses to violence and terror than this movement's push for peace and hope.'
As French officials signaled tougher "security" measures will be implemented in the wake of the Paris attacks, civil society organizations from around the world on Monday sent a message of solidarity with all impacted by war and violence and declared that they will fulfill their "duty" to mobilize for climate justice at the upcoming UN climate talks in the city.
"The world we have always defended is not the one we saw on that night. The world that we defend is one of peace, justice, the fight against inequality and climate change," declared the Coalition Climat 21, a coalition of over 130 labor unions, solidarity associations, human rights groups, and social movements. The network expressed solidarity with "the victims of the 12 November in Beirut and those of 13 November in Paris, as well as their families and loved ones."
"Despite the emotion and sadness, we refuse to give in to terror, we reject the society of fear, stigmatization and scapegoating."
"Our struggle for climate justice will not stop," the statement continued. "We have a duty to stand up and continue to fight for a just and livable planet for all. We will continue to mobilize to build a world free of wars, and atrocities, and the ravages of the climate crisis. We will continue to bring solutions and alternatives to fight against climate change."
The coalition vowed: "we will implement all our efforts to hold all the mobilizations currently planned."
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manuel Valls claimed on Monday in an interview with RTL Radio that "a series of demonstrations planned will not take place and it will be reduced to the negotiations...a lot of concerts and festivities will be canceled."
And French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Sunday that the UN Conference of the Parties 21 (COP21), scheduled for the end of November, "will go ahead with reinforced security measures." This point has been reiterated by UN officials, including Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general.
Before the attacks, France was already preparing to mobilize at least 30,000 police officers and enforce border checks—in what was criticized as a repressive response to the mass protests slated to take place. In the wake of Friday's massacre, the entire continent of Europe is undergoing a dramatic—and some say dangerous—expansion of surveillance, policing, and raids that disproportionately target Arabs, Muslims, people of color, and immigrants.
"Despite the emotion and sadness, we refuse to give in to terror, we reject the society of fear, stigmatization and scapegoating," declared Attac, a French organization which opposes neoliberal globalization. "We affirm our determination to continue to circulate, to work, to entertain us, to hold meetings and fight freely."
"This movement for climate justice has always also been a movement for peace—a way for people around the world to come together, no matter their background or religion, and fight to protect our common home."
—Nicolas Haeringer, 350.org
"We reject in advance any restriction on the right to protest and fight against this decaying world, in favor of the alternatives that peoples of the South and the North put forward together," the organization continued in a statement released Sunday. "From November 29 to December 12 in Paris on the occasion of the COP 21 and with our citizens' mobilizations, we will show that another world is possible, necessary and urgent."
Civil society organizations from around the world have been organizing for months in the lead-up to the COP21 talks, where they will hold an alternative people's summit at a Climate Action Zone, a mass march on December 12, and numerous other actions to demand real solutions to the climate crisis. Many argue that now is also a critical time to stand against wars of retaliation, as France vows a "merciless response" to the brutal Paris attacks and unleashes a major bombing campaign against the Syrian city of Raqqa.
"The tragedy in Paris has only strengthened our resolve," said Nicolas Haeringer, France campaigner for 350.org. "This movement for climate justice has always also been a movement for peace—a way for people around the world to come together, no matter their background or religion, and fight to protect our common home."
Haeringer added, "We can think of few better responses to violence and terror than this movement's push for peace and hope. No matter the final plans for the march in Paris, we urge people to join other Global Climate Marches around the world to show their solidarity and support--there couldn't be a more important time to push for climate justice, and the peace it can help bring."
"When you think about the roots of the Syrian crisis, and how even that is connected to the climate, and the refugees suffering because of drought and the lack of responsiveness of the government, it's not just about climate emissions. It's about social and economic justice and how to bring about peaceful and just solutions, rather than military solutions."
—Michael Leon Guerrero, Climate Justice Alliance
"Al Qaeda or Daesh [also referred to as ISIS] derive all their inhuman strength from these injustices. This war leads to no peace because there is no peace without justice. To end this war, our societies will have to do away with addictions to power, weapons, oil, rare metals, uranium," said Attac.
"It's an important moment to think about the climate, environment, and also peace, and how we bring real solutions," Michael Leon Guerrero, national coordinator for the Climate Justice Alliance, told Common Dreams. "When you think about the roots of the Syrian crisis, and how even that is connected to the climate, and the refugees suffering because of drought and the lack of responsiveness of the government, it's not just about climate emissions. It's about social and economic justice and how to bring about peaceful and just solutions, rather than military solutions."
Dallas Goldtooth, organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, told Common Dreams that a delegation of indigenous people from across North America, many of them youth, is planning to travel to Paris: "As long as the climate talks are moving ahead, it is vital to have the voices of Indigenous people form the front lines of climate change."