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Youth campaigners at COP21 staged a walk out this week to protest in front of the conference hall to demand real solutions to the climate crisis. The activists and campaigners are in support of the 'Keep It in the Ground' declaration which denounces the "toothless technofixes and impotent market-based interventions being forced through the COP, such as REDD, youth representatives instead will endorse a vision of the vital steps needed to keep fossil fuels in the ground through a just and science-based transition."  (Photo: Joel Lukhovi/Survival Media Agency)

Despite Protest Ban, Amazing Things Have Been Happening at COP 21

Kevin Smith

This morning the location and concept behind the much-talked about Red Lines action was announced. It’s happening at noon, tomorrow - 12 o’ clock on the 12th of the 12th - and will involve thousands standing down the avenue from the Arc de Triomphe to draw a red line with their bodies, signifying our commitment to defend our common homes. The line will point towards the real perpetrators of climate crimes in La Défense, where the headquarters of major fossil fuel companies and their financial backers can be found.

This action, taking place despite the draconian ban on protests put in place by the French government, will be the ‘piece de resistance’ in more ways than one, of two weeks of inspiring actions in Paris that have shown that people are way ahead of negotiators and politicians in pushing for real action on the climate crisis. This is a quick round of up of just some of that amazing energy that has been on the streets. Hats off to everyone who has been involved in making all this happen, and I'm looking forward to seeing how all this amazing movement energy gets translated to local struggles around the world after the talks have finished.

1) Solutions 21 Shutdown

According to Democracy Now!, "the U.N. climate summit has come under scrutiny for its unprecedented level of corporate sponsorship—more than 50 companies, with some of them counted by climate activists as being among the world’s worst industrial polluters. On Friday, climate activists gathered at the Grand Palais in Paris protesting the COP21 'Solutions' exhibition, where businesses were pushing for corporate and privatized responses to climate change. Several protesters were evicted from the premises by the large security presence at the event."

2) Kayaktivists on the Seine calling for indigenous rights

The Guardian reported that "Indigenous groups from across the world staged a paddle down the Seine river in Paris on Sunday, calling on governments to ensure Indigenous rights are included in the United Nations climate pact currently being negotiated in France. The United States, the EU, Australia and other states have pushed for Indigenous rights to be dropped from the binding parts of the agreement out of fear that it could create legal liabilities.

"Indigenous representatives from North and South America, Indonesia and Congo played instruments and led others in prayer amid the smell of burning sage after activists completed the paddle, demanding the protection of water and the environment."

3) Against oil sponsorship at the Louvre

According to the Art Not Oil website, "Hundreds of artists and climate activists staged an unsanctioned protest performance at the Louvre museum in Paris, urging the museum to cancel its sponsorship deals with the oil companies Total and Eni. Outside, in front of the museum’s iconic pyramid, they spelled out the words 'Fossil Free Culture' in black umbrellas painted with giant white letters. Simultaneously a smaller group of art-activists spilled an oil-like substance in the atrium of the museum--clad in black clothes and holding black umbrellas, the artists walked barefoot in the 'oil spill,' leaving footprints on the marble floor as a symbol of fossil fuel corporations’ influence on museums."

4) Migrant detention solidarity

The amazing 'It Takes Roots' delegation of frontline folks from across North America proved (not that they had to) their deep dedication to intersectional climate justice by marching in solidarity with illegally detained migrants in Paris. Their website says, "On Wednesday, December 9, nearly 200 grassroots activists converged and marched, chanted, and sang with colorful banners, posters and outside the Vincennes detention center in Paris where several immigrants are illegally detained by the French government. The Vincennes detention center where grassroots communities  gathered is of particular significance, as it was the site of an historic uprising after the death of a Tunisian man while in custody in 2008. This uprising brought national attention to the inhumane treatment of migrants and refugees in detention in Paris."

5) French farmers vs big agribiz

According to their website, "The international peasant movement La Via Campesina and the French union Confederation Paysanne farmers protested today outside the headquarters in Paris of the food multinational Danone, amid COP21 climate conference. This action at the headquarters of Danone denounced the role of the multinational in promoting false solutions to climate change. False solutions (including a policy of compensation and not of actual emissions reduction) endangering peasant farming."

6) Total, tar sands and indigenous rights

Yesterday, according to the Indigenous Rising website, "over a hundred people from indigenous communities across the globe and the climate movement from Europe gathered for a peaceful protest outside the headquarters of energy corporation Total. The Canadian government’s on-going commitment to tar sands expansion is incompatible with Prime Minister Trudeau’s promise at the Paris Climate talks to restrict planetary warming to just 1.5 degree Celsius warming. The extraction of highly polluting tar sands on indigenous lands continue to expand at a rapid rate. With only one day of negotiations remaining, Indigenous Rights continue to be on the chopping block of the Paris Climate Accord."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith is the press officer at Global Justice Now. He joined in October 2014, after having spent 6 years at Platform overseeing their communications development and campaigning against oil sponsorship of the arts. He has been active on climate justice issues since the mobilisation at COP 6 summit in The Hague in 2000, and also spent time living in Spain on politically-engaged land based projects.

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