Twelve Days That Cooked the World: Combating the Climate Counterrevolution in Paris

Sam Castro with Climate Guardian Angels blocks the entryway to Engie's headquarters in La Défense, Courbevoie, December 10, 2015. Castro is from Australia, where she said Engie is responsible for a mine fire in Victoria that burned for 45 days and killed
Candice Bernd, Truthout, 12/12/15

Paris, France - Negotiators at the 21st UN Conference of the Parties (COP) in Paris are rapidly moving toward a global climate agreement that promises death and destruction - especially for certain small island and African nations.

If negotiators finalize the deal, it will lock each and every one of us into a world that promises nearly 3 degrees Celsius of planetary warming above preindustrial levels and operates within a framework that fails to recognize the reality that capitalism is inherently unsustainable as a system that demands infinite growth on a planet with finite resources.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process details how international treaties may be negotiated to set limits on greenhouse gases. Ironically, the Paris talks and the accord that party countries may produce reveal the purpose of this process to be the maintenance and protection of the global economic system driving extreme climate chaos, despite putting forward an agreement that will likely be hailed as the COP's most ambitious yet.

This year's talks contrast significantly with the COP's last major summit in Copenhagen in 2009, which closed amid an atmosphere of severe discord, and was ultimately branded a failure by much of the media. Despite tense negotiations over key sticking points, the Paris talks have moved forward amid an air of optimism, making progress toward possibly the largest and most consequential global response to climate change in history - even though the deal may ultimately ensure the destabilization of natural systems under increasing pressure from climate disruption.

However, in spite of the bureaucratic rigmarole taking place inside Le Bourget, the actions of defiance taking place outside of it - in the face of a reactionary crackdown -suggests something just shy of hope. Activists here have remained resilient and adaptive, continuing to mobilize despite French authorities' extended ban on marches, rallies and "outdoor activities" in the wake of the ISIS attacks on Paris in November.

An impressive array of actions is unfolding. The weekend before the talks began, people hit the streets in record-setting global protests. In Paris, activists formed a 10,000-person-long human chain and hundreds were arrested after clashing with French police. Indigenous-led actions have included disruptions of events hosted by COP21's corporate sponsors and banner drops protesting the omission of Indigenous rights from the potential COP agreement.

In a reinvigorated climate of fear and jingoism reminiscent of the period following 9/11, authorities have tightened security measures at the summit as part of an ongoing state of emergency that will continue for another two months. Armed officers, some mounted on horses, surround the Le Bourget site and linger around train stations, descending on anyone who walks away from their baggage for even a second. Even when entering a civil society space outside Le Bourget, your bag is searched by authorities.