Yesterday this appeared on my blogger friend Adam's facebook wall or whatever they call that nowadays, with some photos. I met them a few hours after the 350.org red lines protest at the Eiffel Tower and the atmosphere was amazing. The French organisation Alternatiba were involved with a "human chain" which has become symbolic. We lit candles forming a human chain with Oil Vay! and the Paris community. My photos from last week are now on my flickr page.
Yesterday around 15,000 people gathered on the streets of Paris to call – to scream – for climate justice. Ordinarily this would be unremarkable, but it is just a few weeks after the deadly attacks and a state of emergency remains in place prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people. Many who had planned to come to Paris were quite reasonably frightened off. That anything happened on the streets at all in this highly tense and uneasy atmosphere, on streets thronged with armed police,
at all is a small miracle.
at all is a small miracle.
We can celebrate successfully taking a space and having a chance to scream. What we can't celebrate is having our words twisted.
Those who did make it on Saturday has a very clear message to shout: our leaders have failed, so we're going to defend our climate instead.
The woefully inadequate final text was just being circulated amongst the delegates as people to the streets to draw 'red lines' – our line in the sand that we would not allow the climate to fry despite the failings of the UN process. We stretched from the Arc de Triumph, symbol of the French Military, towards la Defense, France's financial epicentre: war and corporate power seek to cross these red lines. On the lines of cloth we laid flowers representing the victims of climate change: the World Health Organisation estimates climate changes kills 200,000 people a year.
The BBC and others reported we took to the streets on Saturday to 'celebrate' a deal well struck at the UN. This is a lie. Even if it is less appallingly inadequate than it might have been, the deal struck this weekend gives a free break for fossil fuel companies to pollute, lets the richest continue to churn out CO2 at the expense of the poor, and does nowhere near enough to keep our climate a, still unhealthy, 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels.
We have drawn our red lines. The UN deal threatens to cross them. If we were celebrating anything on Saturday, it was the start of this fight. Everyone of the 15,000 in Paris were representing thousands more of you, the movement, fighting on around the world – like the Queen's University Belfast students occupying for fossil fuel divestment this weekend.
A whole climate justice movement, built on the solidarity of new global alliances between indigenous groups, workers and peace activists and armed with a fearless radicalism, is renewed and dispersed from Paris today to the four corners of the earth.
That's pretty exciting eh?