A rebel's guide to Paris
Welcome to the End of the World show
Paris is the place to be this December for some pre-Christmas rebellion. The UN Conference of Parties (known as COP21) charade will take over the city. Whether you are there physically or virtually, if you want to keep fossil fuels in the ground, stand in solidarity with frontline communities or kick corporate lobbyists out of town, there will be something for you. And it doesn’t have to be the end of the world – it could be the beginning of a new one...
A flood of transnational climate criminals are poised to descend on Paris, to greenwash their image and push for corporate-friendly solutions which don’t challenge business-as-usual. 35 corporations are footing 20 per cent of the summit’s bill, including car manufacturers, an airline, fossil fuel companies, fracking lobbyists and a tax-dodging coal-financing bank. Many peddlers of false solutions will be found at the Grand Palais during the Solutions21 exhibition and at the Sustainable Innovation Forum. nin.tl/COP21sponsors
The Paris Climate Summit is not actually in Paris but in Le Bourget, one of the city’s poorest suburbs. The conference centre is in a private airport specializing in business flights – beyond ironic.
Oil giants Total and Eni sponsor the world-famous Louvre, where the beautiful oil paintings are helping gloss over the horrors of fossil fuel extraction. There are rumours that the Mona Lisa’s smile might grow a little when she witnesses some beautiful trouble in her ancient home. artnotoil.org.uk
Take part in the world’s largest disobedient action adventure game, whether you’re coming to the COP or not. The Climate Games is a brand new form of protest, where play and politics merge. Working in teams, armed with courage, a mobile phone and plans for creative mischief, you can use an online app and map to target corporate baddies, report your action and see where Team Blue (the police) are lurking. There will be awards for particularly funny, effective or media-savvy actions. climategames.net
The Citizen Climate Summit will take place on 5-6 December, in Paris suburb Montreuil. A huge gathering of NGOs and activists, including a village of alternatives. coalitionclimat21.org/en
When to go and what to do:
1. Join the climate justice movement
The dots are finally being joined between the climate catastrophe, the refugee crisis, our value systems and capitalism. Rising faster than the seas, the global climate justice movement could have its coming-out party in Paris. The action will kick off with Global Climate Marches on 28 and 29 November, in cities across the world. globalclimatemarch.org
2. Take action to influence the talks
Inside the talks, Southern delegates will need support and solidarity to avoid being bullied into complying with sub-clauses that condemn their people to death. Throughout the summit there will be plenty of urgent tactical actions to take, on the ground and online. Keep an eye on the New Internationalist Paris Hub for ways to get involved. newint.org/live/paris
On December 11-12, the movements will have the last word. They will announce ‘red lines’: the minimal necessities for a liveable planet, such as emissions cuts and finance. Inevitably, the summit agreement will cross these lines. As the final plenary begins, thousands will take part in what could be the largest ever act of civil disobedience for climate justice, by surrounding the summit with red lines and occupying the streets. Sign up here: d12.paris/
HISTORY: TO THE BARRICADES!
Walk down any Paris street and it’s likely there was once a barricade there. No other capital can claim so many demonstrations, riots, coups and uprisings. Over two nights in 1830, 4,000 barricades appeared. In 1848 there were 6,000.
The barricade was turned into a fine art in this once-insurrectionary city. The form was invented in Paris – the word comes from barrique, meaning barrel. Easy to roll into place to defend a rebellious neighbourhood from attack by the authorities. The aim was not just to block the street: from the top of the barricade protesters would harangue the soldiers, using every argument they could to convince them not to massacre the citizens sheltering behind it. When troops were convinced and changed sides, victory was in reach.
If words failed to persuade, the fighting would begin, and massacre often ensued. The Paris Commune of 1871 ended with 25,000 rebels killed by the state. A multitude of rebel ghosts haunt this city. Rumours are that inflatable barricades might be on their way...
This article is from
the November 2015 issue
of New Internationalist.
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