Hope and Fear in the City of Lights

Until November 13, the name โ€œParisโ€ was on many peopleโ€™s lips because of the upcoming UN climate change conference taking place there November 30 – December 11. Environmental leaders all over the world have looked to this conference as a time to make unprecedented and urgently needed commitments to halt the progress of climate change while the planet is still habitable.

On November 13, the name โ€œParisโ€ became synonymous with a devastating cluster of bombings and shootings that killed 132 people in the City of Lights. Voices of urgent concern for our climate momentarily fell silent as the voices of shock and grief arose and cities all over the world lit up in Franceโ€™s red, white and blue. The most obvious example of this was the Live Earth 24 Hours of Reality program taking place that day, part of the leadup to COP21 in Paris. The Climate Reality Project chose to suspend programming when news of the attacks came out.

Concerns arose of whether COP21 would go forward. Soon, leaders confirmed that COP21 would not be stopped. However, many unofficial events would be cancelled in the name of increased security. We asked leading environmental organizations how these changes would affect their plans and hopes for COP21.

350.org has been in discussions with Coalition Climat 21, the French coalition coordinating civil society activities around the Paris climate talks, Avaaz, and other partners about how to proceed with planned demonstrations for COP21. Nicolas Haeringer, France Campaigner for 350.org, said, “The tragedy in Paris has only strengthened our resolve. This movement for climate justice has always also been a movement for peace–a way for people around the world to come together, no matter their background or religion, and fight to protect our common home.”

“We can think of few better responses to violence and terror than this movement’s push for peace and hope. No matter the final plans for the march in Paris, we urge people to join other Global Climate Marches around the world to show their solidarity and support– there couldn’t be a more important time to push for climate justice, and the peace it can help bring.”

Coalition Climat 21 also released a statement: โ€œWhile taking into account the exceptional circumstances, we believe that COP21 can not take place without the participation or without the mobilizations of civil society in France. Thus, we will implement all our efforts to hold all the mobilizations currently planned. In consultation with the authorities, we will continue to ensure the security of all participants is guaranteed.โ€

โ€œItโ€™s important to remember that this mobilization will be global: hundreds of thousands of people will mobilize during the two weeks of negotiations of the COP21 and representatives from countries the world over will be present in Paris. The whole world is concerned and we will not ignore these issues.โ€

Sujata Dey, with the Council of Canadians, told us, โ€œWe are profoundly shocked and saddened by the recent events in Paris. We hope that this will be an opportunity for people to realize that now, more than ever, we must come together for the future of our planet. Despite our fears, we must continue to push for a better world. We hope to bring this resolve to the Paris talks. The world needs positive voices and positive change.โ€

Parvati.org’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, Darcy Belanger, is travelling to Paris to collect signatures from world leaders on a Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary treaty. He remarked, “I am coming to Paris with an expectation of securing an agreement to protect the Arctic Ocean. It’s a vulnerable ecosystem that greatly impacts the total stability of the climate globally, and its stewardship is something that every nation needs to take responsibility for.”

David Suzuki Foundation Science and Policy Manager Ian Bruce said, โ€œOur thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the people of Paris and all victims of terror everywhere. We still hope governments from around the world, including Canadaโ€™s, will develop strong targets to reduce carbon emissions to address the climate crisis, the interconnected issues of poverty and access to food and water, and help build healthier communities.

Despite what has happened in the last several days, the idea of diverse nations coming together to move forward on the largest environmental and social challenge we face as a planet should fill us with hope and courage.โ€

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by Parvati Magazine staff