Why have our governments during the last 20+ years been unable to agree on necessary measures – and even more so, been unable to do what science tells us is necessary to avoid climate catastrophe? It is not because of a lack of solutions. The climate crisis can be prevented. We have the knowledge and technology we need. The main barriers are the social, political and economic power relations in society. Therefore, only massive pressure from below, from a broad coalition of trade unions, other social movements, environmentalists and others can save us from climate catastrophe.
It has become a predictable pattern at the annual UN climate conferences for participants to describe the outcome in widely divergent ways. This was first apparent after the high-profile Copenhagen conference in 2009, when a four-page non-agreement was praised by diplomats, but denounced by well-known critics as a “sham,” a “farce,” and a mere face-saver. UN insiders proclaimed the divisive 2013 Warsaw climate conference a success, even though global South delegates and most civil society observers had staged an angry walk-out a day prior to its scheduled conclusion.
This we bring you a recap of the COP21 climate clusterfuck in Paris, with Jim Hansen’s reaction to the historic non-agreement and 350.org’s condemnation of comrades who defied the protest ban. Over in Greece we look at the yearly riots that commemorate the police murder of Alex Grigoropoulos.
The climate agreement delivered earlier this month in Paris is a genuine triumph of international diplomacy. It is a tribute to how France was able to bring a fractious world together. And it is testament to how assiduous and painstaking science can defeat the unremitting programme of misinformation that is perpetuated by powerful vested interests. It is the twenty-first century's equivalent to the victory of heliocentrism over the inquisition. Yet it risks being total fantasy.
Two certainties existed entering the Paris climate talks. They hold as true coming out. The first was that the world’s heads of state were not prepared to act as is necessary. The second is that it was never going to be up to them anyway.
The richest governments – politically captured by a fossil fuel-wedded corporate class – were hobbled from the outset. It was the movement being built by activists around the globe that shaped the best of the Paris agreement. And what was worst they were unable to prevent.
If there is a serious commitment to solving the climate crisis, governments would be working with peasants and other small-scale producers, rather than negotiating with corporations. This was the message echoed loudly among peasant leaders today at “Climate Generations”, the civil society space annex to the UN official summit venue.
The COP21 resulted in an agreement that was 25 years in the making, beginning with the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. Until now the world had been unable to reach an agreement on combating climate change. Because the document required unanimous consensus it is the lowest common denominator.