Although Syrian refugees are still being blamed for the Paris attacks, the news that the attackers were all European nationals seems only to have created a growing sense of disquiet. It’s as if some sense of purpose has been lost with cavalier bravado that always obscures the chauvinism staring plainly back at the West through the mirror of “the Orient.”
Lost on many is the fact that NATO powers helped to fuel the conflict in Syria and ensuing growth of ISIS. Lost on many more is the accelerant that climate change has become, creating systems of drought and despair in Syria and throughout the world that feed the conditions of civil war. Solving climate change would provide an important key to liberate those struggling for global justice, because it would come from them.
At this point, domestic questions begin to arise, and answers do not come easily for the bomb-dropping President of the French Fifth Republic whose imperial policies are so clearly part of the problem. He has agreed to allow Syrian refugees into France regardless of the notorious ressentimentof the radical right. However, his government has also used the attacks as convenient leverage to attempt to preemptively disperse protests for the upcoming Paris Conference of Parties (COP21), slated to take place November 30 to December 11.
While his government claims that moving the talks to a later date would be “abdicating to terrorists,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared three days after the dreadful attacks that “a series of demonstrations planned [around COP21] will not take place and it will be reduced to the negotiations … a lot of concerts and festivities will be canceled.” Valls is more concerned about abdicating a few time slots on his precious schedule than he is about abdicating democracy.
On Monday, Climate Coalition 21 issued a press release insisting, “Our struggle for climate justice will not stop. 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.”
After meeting with the French government, however, the news spread that two of the largest events have been officially banned. Nonetheless, 350.org France Campaigner Nicolas Haeringer declared, “The government can prohibit these demonstrations, but it can not stop the mobilization and it won’t prevent us strengthening the climate movement.” Though the larger marches have been proscribed, organizers insist that 2,000 worldwide protests will take place, and encourage people to converge on Paris for the last days of the climate summit and other events slated to take place.
Building on previous COPs in Copenhagen, Durban, Warsaw, and Peru, this COP has been arranged to be the ultimate. It is, in essence, a convergence of business and political leaders from around the world to discuss carbon trading schemes, taxes, offsets, and other capital-friendly investment opportunities for the market 2.0. The effects of such market based solutions to climate change are obviated by their obscurantism.
First of all, there is the simple lack of accountability. China has lied about its coal emissions to the tune of 17 percent. Not only is there any sign that China will face repercussions, but they are expected to be a leader at the Paris climate talks, and have pledged to make 20 percent of their energy renewable by 2030—a snail’s pace taken for a cheetah’s.
And then there’s the far more oblique methods of lying. For example, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, deemed radical by industry, uses a methodology that enables timber companies to hide their pollution behind by non-profit, private, or public land holdings that absorb carbon elsewhere. This international metric for climate credits affects the scale of deforestation throughout the world—from Oregon to Indonesia.
When indigenous peoples, political dissidents, and the less well-endowed greens attempt to raise their voices, they are systematically excluded. For this reason, protests at the COPs have numbered in the tens of thousands. The most headline grabbing protests have taken place from within, where dissident delegates staged walk-outs and joined the throngs of the excluded outside.
Just as Paris was supposed to signify the ultimate culmination of the COP process, cementing the passage of binding requirements, the organizers expect hundreds of thousands to join together to demonstrate against corporate false solutions to climate change that follow an imperialist political and economic model.
Indignation of the ZADists
Aside from embarking on imperialist interventions abroad, domestically, Hollande has cracked down on environmentalists of the ZAD, an “autonomous zone” defended by anarchists from excavators, loggers, and developers. In a raid last fall, a ZADist named Rémi Fraisse was shot deadby a police officer with a tear gas grenade. However, the French state is expected to act soon in attempts to remove them again in the near future.
Although the demonstrations in Paris will likely maintain a positive tone, a strong current of indignation will no doubt be palpable.
Like the removal of Occupy protestors in the name of “public health,” the excuse of “safety” was not consented to in a mutually affirmative manner. Predicting the government’s announcement, French activist group Attac wrote, “We reject in advance any restriction on the right to protest and fight against this decaying world, in favour of the alternatives that peoples of the South and the North put forward together. 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.” This position is still widely shared, and should continue.
Resisting the coup d’etat
From the anti-mining actions in Germany to the Black Lives Matter movement and wave of student protests currently sweeping the US, activists have demonstrated incredible initiative regarding spontaneous methods of protest manifesting effective popular presence against the elites.
A popular, democratic approach to solving climate change is being suppressed not only by a paramilitary force whose rise NATO members facilitated, but by a French government that has opportunistically used the tragedy to subvert participatory politics.
It is a coup for the global elites. We can only hope that, around the world, activists rise up against it, and take forward the banner of climate justice against the ravages of drought, flood, plague, and famine.
See The Ecologist‘s Guide to COP21 for more on how to plug in.