The terrifying deadlines approached by climate change tempt us to despair. But the face of the movement stirs us to courage.
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.
Thanks a lot, Republicans. You weren’t in Paris physically, but you still managed to prevent last week’s global climate summit from reaching an agreement that would give humanity a better than iffy chance of avoiding catastrophic sea-level rise, scorching temperatures, and killer floods and drought in the years ahead.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius just announced, in Paris, a “legally binding agreement” that no-one has agreed the financing for. We can hear a couple thousand lawyers across the globe snicker. But it’s all the COP21 ‘oh-so-important’ climate conference managed to come up with. No surprises there. They couldn’t make the 2ºC former goal stick, so they go for 1.5ºC this time. All on red, double or nothing. Because who really cares among the leadership, just as long as the ‘targets’ are far enough away that they can’t be held accountable.
While representatives from nearly 200 nations gathered inside the COP21 on Saturday to hammer out the final details of the climate agreement, climate justice activists and civil society groups took to the streets of Paris near the Arc de Triomphe to say the agreement doesn’t do enough to roll back the effects of climate change. "The Paris Agreement is a death sentence for many people," says Pablo Solón, former climate negotiator for Bolivia. "A world with temperature increases more than 3 degrees Celsius is a world where not everyone will survive."
By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster…. The talks in Paris are the best there have ever been. And that is a terrible indictment.” George Monbiot, The Guardian, December 12, 2015
The day after can be a source of regret, or a new beginning. It all depends on how much we can perceive the importance of events in time, in history, in life itself.
The circus is over. The suits are leaving Paris. There have been millions of words written about the text. But one fact stands out. All the governments of the world have agreed to increase global greenhouse gas emissions every year between now and 2030. 
Light comes to Paris late on winter mornings and the streets are nearly empty as I head out in search of a morning newspaper. It’s the day after the ratification of the ‘historic’ legally binding Paris Agreement and ministers and delegations from over 190 nations are already in glorious retreat home from the pomp and circumstance afforded them during the two weeks of negotiations at Le Bourget.