World leaders and global activists have met to finalize a climate agreement at the Paris Climate Summit COP21. This is a pivotal point for environmental politics and how individuals and communities can take action to support the planet. Here are some COP21 Highlights:
Women and Gender Constituency – Over the past several years of international climate change negotiations, it has been established and agreed by governments across the world, who are Parties toCOP21, that gender equality and ensuring women’s human rights are necessary to effectively act on climate change mitigation and adaptation. Women were active at COP21 both inside the meetings and outside in the streets and many organizing meetings that brought global activists together in protest and negotiations.
North Dakota indigenous leader Kandi Mossett: “We are sacrifice zones” – Man camps are where thousands of men live in hovels. They’re FEMA trailers or RV parks or wherever they can find space. Man camps are in what used to be wheat fields or a sunflower fields that are now oil-fracking operations. As a result, we’ve seen an great increase in crime, violence, and drug abuse. I have buried two young girls, my friends, this last year, who got addicted to the heroin, because we now have organized crime. As far as the environmental toxins, we won’t even feel the effects for 20 years. And I’m so worried that at this COP21 my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter won’t have a say, but she will be experiencing the worst impacts. And it just doesn’t make any sense to me that this is the 21st COP and we are considered sacrifice zones in my community.
Climate Justice Movement “Extremely Disappointed” in COP21 Draft’s “Failure to Set Up” – Chee Yoke Ling, legal adviser to the Third World Network, based in Beijing: “There’s no agreement, actually, because the question is: How do we share? How do we share the responsibility of doing the actions that will bring us to 1.5? Many vulnerable countries, small island states, and even some of the bigger developing countries want strong action. But the 1.5 has to be in the context of actions that are fair, so that the rich and those who can do more should do their share, and then the poor should be helped to actually do their share. So what we see here, to get to the 1.5, where everybody is treated the same, where we see the rich countries, like the United States and the European countries or Japan, saying that they will try to do their best, on a voluntary basis, and they’re backing off from what they agreed to do 20 years ago. They are not cutting emissions at home, in Europe or North America. They are not going to give money to help other countries do it. So, 1.5 is a nice number, but how do you get to 1.5 in terms of real actions?”
Young Feminist Day at the Women and Gender Caucus: Alina Saba – Thailand, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law & Development: “Living with climate change is a reality, it keeps us awake at night. Climate Change is further pushing us into a cycle of inequality. We are trading away our life.” Report from WEDO *Women, Environment & Development Organization begun by Bella Abzug): The room was filled with engaged participants eager to hear the voices of young feminists who participated and hope to continue the conversation and establish a young feminist working group in order to ensure that all generations are included in climate change negotiations, international policies, and advocacy spaces.
Naomi Klein Decries Climate Deal as Extraordinarily Dangerous – “We know, from the paltry levels of financing that wealthy governments have brought to the table, that COP21 is going to steamroll over equity red lines, which means that wealthy countries that have been emitting fossil fuels on an industrial scale for a couple hundred years will continue to fail to do our fair share of emission reductions, or pay our fair share for the impacts of that, for loss and damage caused by climate change, and also the resources that are badly needed so that poorer countries can leapfrog over fossil fuels and the car culture, and go directly to renewable energy, community-controlled renewable energy, energy democracy. It takes resources and technology transfers to happen. We also know that it’s going to steamroll over our legal red lines, because the U.S. has come to these negotiations announcing that the deal cannot be legally binding. Any talk of penalties was off the table before it even began.
Which is why on December 12th many activists will be in the streets of Paris peacefully demonstrating against the violation of these red lines. We will also be mourning the lives already lost to climate disruption…” Check out Naomi’s newest book here: Capitalism vs. Climate.
Jane Goodall at COP21: “I’m Here to Save the Rainforests” – “Our misuse of fossil fuels, the emissions—from agriculture, from industry, from households—the vast impact that’s being made by this intensive farming of animals. And in order to feed the billions and billions of cows and pigs and chickens, even if you don’t care about the cruelty, even if you refuse to admit that these are individuals with feelings, who feel pain and have emotions, even if you don’t admit that, you have to admit huge areas of forest are cut down to grow grain to feed them. Intensive cattle grazing is turning forests to woodland, to scrubland. And food in one end, gas out both ends, that’s methane. And that’s an even more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. It’s about 36 percent of all methane emissions come from this intensive farming.”
“What we need to be talking about is the atmospheric carbon level that we can tolerate. And unfortunately, it’s too high now, so the conversation, the missing conversation, is also about atmospheric drawdown of carbon. And that’s why I bring up trees and grasslands and restoring growing parts of our planet. We’ve lost one-third of arable land on our planet in the last 50 years. We need to start reversing that. And we can bring humidification back to the Mediterranean. The Roman Empire began deforesting the Mediterranean long ago, and that desertification trend is behind the drought. And we can actually begin reversing that. And it actually—besides bringing moisture back to some of these places and sequestering carbon, it also gives people hope. And it can be a gesture of peace that we can offer around the world.”
Greenpeace commissioned 80 activists from Germany, France and Belgium to paint a large, yellow sun on Paris’ Etoile — the roundabout that encircles the Arc de Triomphe. They used washable paint that isn’t environmentally harmful.
Today, 12/12/15, climate activists are protesting in the streets of Paris, calling all of us to action.
Paris isn’t the end of the story, but a conclusion of a particular chapter. Now, it’s up to us to strengthen these promises, make sure they are kept, and then accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and toward 100% renewable energy. Videos from Paris here.