Along with world leaders and negotiators, a lot of non-governmental, environmental and civil rights groups will be converging on Paris later this month for the COP21 climate summit. Here’s a clip from the Ecologist magazine’s guide to some of the activities”
So what’s happening? And how can I get involved?
The conference itself runs from 30th November – 11th December. But to get in, you will need to have got registration already. And if you haven’t, all the easier to dedicate yourself to everything else that’s going on.
A good place to begin is at one of the convergence spaces. The main one so far confirmed is the Climate Action Zone (ZAC), open from 7th-11th December. This will be a central hub for daily updates from the COP, action planning, workshops and general assemblies.
From early November, Jardin d’Alice will be a large art-action space for building tools for the marches and actions (such as giant inflatables and banners) and hosting a 500-person kitchen.
Check out ARTCOP21 for mainstream art events throughout the COP. Place to B is holding a space for creating alternative narratives of the COP for journalists and blogger types (with space for sleeping 600 at reduced rates), and Eroles will be holding a creative space for collaboration, workshops and opportunities to get involved.
Let the Climate Games begin …
On the weekend at the start of the summit (28th-29th November), there will be mass marches all over the world, including London, New York, Paris, Berlin and others. The London march is on 29th November with smaller local marches in other cities including Cardiff and Edinburgh on the 28th (though Belfast will march on the 29th).
This same weekend Paris will also see the arrival of ‘ZAD’ (Zone a Défendre, or zone to defend) convoy-marches of tractors, bikes and people on foot from land struggles all over France (and possibly Europe) for a mass convergence and banquet.
The opening day of the COP (Monday 30th) will see the opening round of the Climate Games, an innovative form of political engagement taking the form of a real-world ‘Disobedient Action Adventure Game’.
Trialed in Amsterdam coal port this summer, it is essentially a framework to allow for diverse tactics – such as civil disobedience, theatre, art and direct action – to be used together. Teams register, complete their stunts and actions, and submit photos and action reports to the website to be awarded points and prizes for innovation, courage and creativity. The opening round has a focus on ‘greenwashing’.
This day will also be a global day of action for students, with students of all ages encouraged to skip school as part of a global Climate Strike, and organise an action for climate justice.
Civil society will gather in Montreuil during the middle weekend (5th-6th December) for the People’s Climate Summit – a down-to-earth alternative to the political circus playing out in le Bourget, with debates, workshops, screenings, preparation for action and a Village of Alternatives. There will also be a Global Critical Mass bike ride on 5th December.
Other actions include: the Pinocchio Awards ceremony for dirty corporations on the 3rd; an International Tribunal for the rights of Nature on the 4th; a day of action on food sovereignty and TTIP on the 9th, as well as a participative Art Not Oil performance protest in the oil-sponsored Louvre; and day of fracking action on the 10th.
Solutions COP21 is a sideshow event to the official summit, exhibiting “products, services, processes and innovations” for addressing climate change.
With corporations able to pay large sums of money for a space in the COP21 itself if they exhibit within the ‘solutions’ expo, activists have lambasted the exhibition as a symbol of corporate greenwash and vowed to target it with protest. It runs from 4th-10th December in central Paris – get there before the 4th to be ready for mass action.
The talks are scheduled to end on the 11th December, but historically have always overrun, so are actually expected to finish on the 12th – hence the 11th / 12th will be the focus for mobilisation. Saturday 12th, or ‘D12’ as it has been dubbed, will be the main day for mass mobilisation and is expected to go down in history.
Friends of the Earth International are planning an evening rally of speakers and music at Place de le Republique on the 11th, and the closing round of the Climate Games will be on 11th/12th.
‘Climate disobedience’ at Le Bourget …
Plans are coming together for the ‘largest ever act of climate disobedience’ in the form of ‘Red Lines’ occupations encircling the summit, being organised by an unprecedented coalition of NGOs, trade unions, youth, faith, and grassroots groups (Coalition Climat 21, or CC21).
The red lines represent minimum limits for a just and liveable planet, that the negotiators are expected to cross in their lack of ambitious action. The occupations will fill roads around Le Bourget with huge inflatable red lines, farmers with tractors, Occupy-esque tent villages, frontline communities, and thousands of determined people.
At the same time, around the world red lines will appear on targets for action in 2016 – sites of fossil fuel extraction, infrastructure and affected communities. The action is being organised in a way that avoids police escalation (though it is impossible to predict police behaviour), making it accessible and safe for people who have never taken civil disobedience before but want to take bold action at this crucial moment.
Plan to be in Paris by noon on the 11th at the latest for briefings and non-violent civil disobedience trainings. And remember – if there’s one activity at which the French excel, it’s demonstrating.
Mass rally in central Paris
For those not comfortable with the idea of civil disobedience, a rally will also be held in central Paris on D12. Precise details are still being worked out, but current thinking is that twelve blocs will march from twelve locations, carrying red lines representing different themes, to join a giant human chain around Place de la Republique and create a ‘Grand Clamor’ with drums, bells and sirens sounding.
The human chain will surround representatives from affected communities from around the world who will sing and speak before plans are made for an unprecedented year of action in 2016. The whole day will close with a clear link between all of the actions in Paris and around the world.
Updates on plans for D12 will appear on the CC21, 350.org and Climate Justice Action (CJA, a large international coalition of grassroots groups) websites as plans develop.
After having the final word on the talks and claiming the moment to build a strong movement for action in 2016 and beyond, whatever the outcome of the UN summit there will be a celebration and Climate Games Award Ceremony on Sunday 13th. Check the Climate Games website for updates and don’t miss the party!