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Breaking the ban: why frontline communities will not be silenced in Paris


by Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment

Filipino climate campaigner Leon Dulce calls for global resistance to the French government’s attempt to crack down on protests at the Paris climate summit.

‘Our survival is non-negotiable! Uphold people’s rights! Climate justice now!’

These rallying cries will be heard loud and clear around the world, as the people’s movements march during this year’s climate talks, in Paris and beyond.

The French government’s ban on protest actions and outdoor activities during the Conference of Parties 21 (COP21) in Paris is an all-too-familiar draconian measure. The protest ban aims to silence the voices of the hundreds of thousands of Indigenous peoples, climate refugees, environmentalists, and climate activists that will be attending the global climate summit.

On the pretext of ensuring the security of the COP21 participants and the public at large, the ban seeks to take advantage of the climate of fear after the odious 13 November terrorist attacks in Paris. The government seems happy to feed this paranoia, sending the message that the French authorities have failed to control the situation and lack the capacity to protect residents and foreign visitors in Paris.

But we believe the Hollande government is more afraid of the people’s planned actions on climate change, actions that threaten to expose the realities of the persistent climate crisis and the potential impasse in the climate talks. Imperialist countries like the United States, Japan, Russia, China, and powerful countries within the European Union, are jockeying to determine the outcomes of the COP21. Like other COP meetings in the past, the climate negotiations may lead to further aggravation of global warming and climate change, the intensified corporate plunder of the world’s resources, and entrenching the economic and geopolitical domination of imperialist countries across the world.

The adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and its enforcement in 2005 did not lead to a reduction in global carbon emissions. The 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that climate change has reached dangerous levels, with massive and fast-rising emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) from industrialized countries. As of mid-2015, global GHGs have reached a new high of 402 parts per million in the atmosphere. The world’s climate is shifting dangerously and is already causing catastrophic impacts to our planet and its people.

COP 21 will be no different. It will be a venue for imperialist countries and their corporations to impose their prescribed corporate-driven ‘solutions’ to the climate crises – the further commodification of nature and its rapidly depleting resources. As it stands, the new climate protocol is already shaping up to be a failure.

Precisely with this in mind, the French government’s protest ban aims to defuse the people’s anger and hatred towards the big polluters and climate criminals in the COP21 who profit from the climate crisis.

The 99% will reject this crackdown, in Paris and across the globe. People have the right to protest whenever and wherever there is injustice and oppression. Millions are expected to join the #PeoplesClimateMarch across the duration of COP21 in different cities and countries around the world.

The Philippine mass movement has been mobilizing thousands in the build up to COP21. Around 20,000 Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors have marched to Ground Zero in Tacloban, to mark the typhoon’s second anniversary and to demand justice from the persistently corrupt and negligent Philippine government and from the world’s top climate polluters.


Activists assert their right to protest during the APEC meeting in the Philippines on November 19, 2015. Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment


Thousands more have protested against economic globalization as a root cause of the climate crisis, targeting leaders of polluting states like US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the November 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economic meeting near Manila. A daring protest march led by workers, Indigenous peoples, peasants, and environmentalists got within a kilometre of the fortified venue.

We will take to the streets once again from the start to the end of COP21. We will assert the common but differentiated responsibilities of countries in addressing the climate crisis. We demand immediate and drastic cuts in global carbon emissions particularly among big polluting countries like the US and China. These polluter countries and their corporations must provide the bulk of funds for adaptation and reparations to the most vulnerable nations and people. These are the main points that the people want to come out from a new legally binding climate agreement.

Our protest actions are the continuation of our collective effort to address the root causes of the current climate crisis. This is part of our struggle to change the current chaotic and destructive global economic system and world disorder. We will carry on the struggle to fight for a socially just, environmentally sound, climate safe, economically equitable and progressive future.

Leon Dulce is Campaign Coordinator for Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.

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