Janosch Zmelty, our long-term volunteer from Germany will be present in Paris from 5th till 12th of December, in parallel events to the UN climate talks, so called COP21, together with other SCI activists and activists from many other organizations, groups, collectives, front-line communities, etc. Everyday he will be sending us updates on the situation, starting from Sunday, 6th of December.
Train, 12th December 2015
So, finally the last day has ended and our campaign has ended. Some of us are going to stay some days longer, others are already on the way back home and think about what the future will bring for us.
The negotiations are over and the result is strongly discussed. We have different information, relating the content of the contract. While the politicians and the media are saying, that this is a contract, with a strong legal basis, which puts every state in a responsible position, the organizers of the demonstration are making complete different statements. What’s interesting is, that several big NGO’s like Greenpeace are commenting positively on the negotiations’ results. Probably, it is a big step forward in climate politics, because it’s the first international contract and it is obviously more strict, then we expected. But for sure, it is not as strong, as it is necessary for protecting the earth and the climate. When we think honestly and rational, there was just a small chance for an international contract, which protects the earth on a necessary level. Too big are the differences in the short – term interests of the different countries.
China wants and needs a stronger and bigger growth of economy, which is necessarily based on carbon energy, the oil producing countries don’t want to fix the end of their economical model by an international contract. Also other countries are at the moment dependent on the fossil fuels and fossil based industry. I can’t imagine, how this should find a place in a common contract with all the countries, which are directly endangered to become victim of a rising sea level, especially the countries, which might disappear in the next 50 years, when nothing is changing.
In my opinion, the interests are so contrary at the moment, that there is no realistic solution on a diplomatic way, if the relations of power stay, as they are.
In order to that, we have two possibilities. One is, to go back home, to lock our selves in the room, to cry and watch the world burning. The other one, which I personally prefer more is to change the relations of power. But not throughout violence, what might be the first idea of some people.
If we have ideas, idols and values, why shouldn’t we stand up, articulate them and fight for them. What would our life be, if we are not fighting for our positions, which are well thought through? How can we live in a society and to hide, our political positions. Let’s be honest to our self: Can we do that, because we are too afraid of others, because we are embarrassed for our own opinion? I don’t think so. I think most people hide themselves behind themselves. Behind their inner relaxedness and sometimes they say they wouldn’t have time to work on that topic. But the topic of environment isn’t a topic, what needs time. It effects us and is so urgent, because it’s part of our life. So we can take care of our environment, without taking extra time and effort to work on that topic during life. Everything we need to do is to inform ourselves and to rethink our way of living. To change our life won’t destroy it and can be a plus for everybody.
But let’s talk about the politics again. Is it their fault, that we don’t have a perfect agreement after COP21? Is it their responsibility? To answer these questions, let’s think about the power they have. All of their power is based on the citizens. Also dictatorships can’t do, what they want, because the people could rise up, if they don’t act careful. Every government and state is based on the acceptance the people give them. As soon, as the people work against their policy, they have lost, because they are not implementing the law they set. That implies the great responsibility of the people themselves, of the civil society, which is organizing themselves and questioning the policy of the government.
What I want to say with this is, that the governing persons are weak and don’t have the power to change something, if the population is not claiming to change. It is not just loosing the power, if the people go against it. So the people are the key role.
We were happy to be part of these people today. People who do care for themselves, which don’t let them say from others, what they should do. People who are questioning the relations of power, the justice and equality. The people raised their voices.
The first demonstration, we attended was the “red line”. This was the demonstration, I wrote about the last days. I tried not to write too much, because in France is currently the state of emergency implemented and all demonstrations were forbidden.
Even though, the civil society organized themselves. A coalition of many NGO’s prepared everything around this demonstration. They were advertising it and offering training for civil disobedience. We all didn’t know, what will happen, so we were a bit frightened. But we were strongly convinced to go there because of several reasons. Firstly, we think, that freedom can just be defeated with freedom. Secondary, it is the right thing to go on the street and claim, what is the correct thing to do. No matter, which environment you are facing. As a third point, the civil society has the last word and needs to show that. There is no possibility for us, to get suppressed by the state or anybody.
In total we were 15.000 demonstrators at the first demonstration, which took place between “Arc de Triomphe” and “La Defense”. The place was wisely chosen to depict the relation between militarism, capitalism, and climate change.
Luckily, the demonstration was put to be legal on the day itself, so the gathering of people was allowed. But it would also have been a question, if the police would have done something to stop it, if the status would have been different. Different demonstrations were hold days before and some people got arrested during spilling oil on the floor of the “Louvre” to protest against the oil industry sponsoring art.
After we had created a really huge red line as a symbol for the politician, which they shouldn’t cross, we joined the stream of the masses to the “Champ du Mars” at the “Eiffel Tower”. Here, the second big demonstration took place. It was even bigger, than the one before. We formed a message with our bodies, laying on the floor and joined the final speeches and great music performance. It was great to feel the internationality and force of the movement. The whole atmosphere was so positive. Even though the Climate Talks have failed to bring a strong agreement, the people had a strong message to the responsible ones. It was: This is just the beginning and we won’t let you through with these results. I haven’t ever felt the movement to be so strong. The fails of the heads of the states seem to support the movement. I wish there would be no need to go there at all, but obviously, it is.
So what stays from the UNCOP21 in Paris?
Probably millions of frustrated people, millions of euros spent for these talks, two weeks less to rescue the world and to keep peace. That’s just one point of view. I think it’s the wrong point. What we got are millions of engaged people, raising their voice stronger and stronger. A voice that is be heard louder and louder. The climate movement’s are connecting more and more on an international level. They are supporting each other and spreading the message to the people in their country. It needs to get louder, especially for the people who don’t listen to us, because they are afraid. We are the people we are waiting for and we won’t stop fighting for our rights, equality and environmental justice, the rights of every citizen.
Leaving UNCOP21 with a stronger community, with many inspirations and with the good will to change the world for a sustainable, peaceful future. Everybody is needed to achieve that, so we need to gain our friends for this. Let’s start immediately, because the future is there, when the next minute arrives and not in 3 years. Together, we will make the change. We will never give up.
On lache rien
Paris, 11th December 2015
So the last planned day of UNCOP21 has passed by and as expected, the negotiations were extended as a minimum until Saturday.
As we have no direct influence in that, we joined different events to strengthen civil society and prepare several actions for the future. We attended an additional briefing to get final information for an event, which will take place tomorrow. It was impressing to see, how many people from all over the world are caring for the planet and about, what is going on here in Paris. The atmosphere was calm, positive and peaceful. More then that, we had a strong feeling of communion throughout our common values.
In the evening, we participated again in the “Place to Brief”, which was also very impressing. As all the other days, they invited artists to the discussion. Today, I had the impression, that the atmosphere was a bit different. Maybe it was related to the reason, that it is the last day of the briefings. Maybe it was about the negotiations not being as successful, as we wish them to be. But probably it was a mixture of all the different factors. The past weeks and days have been very heartrending. Different stories, sad stories, positive stories and resigning stories. All of them have been shared here in Paris at the “Place to Be” the past days. All of them inspired us, motivated us and formed us a bit. It is also the feeling that great things were created here. Great connections and great ideas, which were shared. It was a community, which fought for everyone to be part in it, to create with the others and not to be excluded.
Today, the “Place to Brief” invited also a ten year old girl. What she said was amazing for all the people. Kids have these natural skills to catch the people’s ears and eyes. They have also the skill to find the easiest words for the most complex things. Everybody understood directly, what is going on. Of course, everybody, who has attended the briefing was aware of the problem, but the children voice is always bringing it more into the heads and minds.
Then, a french philosopher got the word. He talked about our connection to nature, which is very bad. We don’t accept the planet as our friend and exploit him as much, as possible and further. He said, that it won’t help, if we would be able to reduce our carbon emissions. This would just be a more nice way of exploiting him. He related his statements to the indigenous groups, which are very much connected to the nature and just take the amount they need. “These people are living together with the earth and don’t understand our behavior”, he said. We are bringing the earth into a huge imbalance and destroy the cycles of nature, which we also didn’t discovered yet in total. So we would try to find a solution for a problem we are not understanding completely yet. Here he referred to the terror politics, where governments are bombing people to fight against terrorism.
So there are many questions coming out these days. Questions, which are not just questioning the way of production of our goods. Questions, that are questioning the whole system and our way of living. I think it’s not good to make a fast decision, but it is for sure justified and necessary to have a discussion on that topic.
I can’t tell you, if the negotiations themselves make exactly a good progress. We hear as well positive and negative comments. Even our group who is actually attending the negotiations are not getting proper information. But it’s understandable to be in that situation. Of course, all the attending countries want to achieve the best for themselves and what is good for the small island states is probably not so good for the oil extracting countries. So I would need to have an insight into the draft to give a proper statement.
I think what can be said for sure is, that we should not have too big expectations for such a contract. If they will come to an end tomorrow or later, it will be a bad compromise, which will let most of the states the freedom to continue their economical development in the way it developed before. For the island states the center of their interest is the surviving.
So we will see, who will go out of this diplomatic fight as a winner. I am very skeptical that it will be the environment and the people.
10th of December 2015
Today was very similar to the day before. For sure, the biggest reason for that was, that the second part of the “Creative Factory” workshop took place.
Again, it was introduced with some presentation about communication, respectively a game. In all ages of human history, the game was the way to transmit a certain message or the rules of society. According to chess from the medieval, it was the kings’ common goal to defeat the opponent king – not to kill him.
Furthermore the game “Monopoly” was teaching the rules of the capitalistic 20th Century.
Animals are learning through games how to hunt, to survive and to live. Humans use games to spread ideas and common goals.
The speaker asked himself, how to address the climate topic in an easier way to the people. So he started five years ago to invent a game about creating the world of tomorrow.
He quoted a french philosopher, who proposed the isolated thinking of the sciences would be the main reason for all the problems in the world. The sciences wouldn’t listen enough to each other or interact. But everything is in some kind of a connection, which is not represented by our current system of science and education.
The game inventor decided to bring many different sectors of life into a context and to make it easy in the same time. At the end, he finished his game. It’s a board game called “Terrabilis” made of recycled paper. But since 2 days, there is an app version available which you can download in the app- and play store.
After his presentation, we got again together in groups and developed our ideas from the day before. Our idea evolved very good and we planned to create some cards especially for the people from “Place to B”. In the cards, the people should fill in their names, a contact, something they need and as the main point, something they can give. Everybody can take as many cards as he or she wants. The goal is after that to exchange the cards and to find partners for support in any way. Although not everybody might be able to find a partner, the participants are going to have great conversations with people they probably would never have spoken to. Our idea is not really a game, but it’s a way for people to act, exchange, inspire and support themselves direct and indirect.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend the unit until the end and had to leave after lunch. I went to a training about civil engagement and empowering.
Many people fear these days that the negotiations might fail and would like to make an action in that reason. We are facing several problems, when it comes to that. After we attended that training and discussed a long time, what the presented things tell us.
In any case. We should not be put off our goals. We need to have a strong voice, a voice that will be heard by the whole world, a voice that will be echoed by all the people, who want to engage themselves for their society. That voice must be raised, when the politicians are not strong enough.
Because it’s our responsibility and duty to have the last word about our future.
Paris, 09th December 2015
Kids, they give us inspiration, energy, power and creativity. They have the power and their heart open for other people’s emotions. Children are the center of every family. That are reasons, why they should be one of the addresses and topics of our efforts. When the child is not feeling good, when the future of the child is in danger or when the child wants something, the parents do care.
That was the content of the speaker from the organization “Moms Clean Air Force”. They are dealing mainly with the wellfare of the children and are not a typical climate organization. That’s the reason, why it’s possible for them to be listened by more people, than the organizations running as an ice bears around and showing pictures from the earth. These symbols are used too often and don’t catch the people anymore.
Another speaker emphasized the importance of eye – catching symbols or slogans. He told us about an event, which was organized by his organization, which is dealing with extinct birds. But instead of calling the exhibition “Exhibition about extinct bird species”, they called it “The ghost of the gone birds”, which was a much more catching title.
This all happened in the “Creative Factory”, which I attended today. There we listened to these presentations and also others, including the “Plant for the Planet” organization, which is doing a great job. Many of the contents were touching and full of energy.
After we listened to them, we got together in groups and brainstormed on the questions, what is not going well in the former communication about climate change.
We finished that very fast and started to brainstorm to find ideas to challenge this issue. It took us very long and at the end we could present some kind of idea. It is about strengthening the activists and create a better interaction between the individuals to increase power and stay strong.
Honestly, this work was not really satisfying for me. So many people were sitting around the table and thinking about some ideas, which might work and didn’t take direct actions. Of course it’s important, that projects are planned, but I am skeptical about the real outcome. Last experiences showed me, that there can be also big results with little actions.
But I don’t want to take more of your time with this boring topic. Rather I’d like to share you our feelings. This evening, we had a group meeting and exchanged our impressions. Everybody explained what he or her did today and shared experiences.
As the negotiations group wasn’t back to that point yet, we just had very antithetic informations and didn’t really know, what to believe from the media. In general we were frustrated from the situation we were in.
Now, the group which took part in the negotiations came back in the mid of the night and reported from what they have seen. Today took place really good actions from the civil society. Meanwhile our bad idea from the negotiations was also confirmed. The countries of the world agreed on many different parts of the draft, but the three most important questions: Who is responsible? Who will pay? How obligatory should the contract be? Are still not answered and represent for sure enough potential for the negotiations to fail.
We need to get prepared for that scenario.
Paris, 08th of December 2015
A “Place to Smile” – that was topic of the main event at the “Place to Be”. Here, 15 different artists and activists presented their ways of dealing with the correct communication for the climate problems. We were shown many different examples for positive examples for talking about this topic, without being too serious. “Nobody is interested in ppm of CO2 in the atmospheres”, “Charts of increasing Temperature showing the last millions of years are boring” said one of the lecturers. The people have seen these charts too often. They are not shocking anymore. All statements pointed in one direction: We need an other way of communication.
The lecturers mentioned several. One big way was based on humor. Here a french comedian held a touching speech. During it, he apologized many times that he would not be funny today, because of three events this year, which made him become an adult. First, the terror in Janurary against Charlie Hebdo. Then the terror attacks last month in Paris, and finally the success of the right party “Front National” at last sundays’ elections.
So he searched for the root of the success of the radicals. He said: “They present an easy picture of the world. We are the good ones, and they are the bad”. We are throwing around with all this complicated words like global warming, climate change, carbon footprint, 2°C, CCS, decarbonization, climate neutrality etc.. What do these words tell an average citizen, who is not informed yet? We would make the topic so difficult, that the people don’t understand the issue itself. To go the next step and to expect from them to change their way of living would be far too much. Especially, because all kinds of solutions are as complex, as the topic. “Am I not allowed to eat meat anymore, do I have to pay some money, can’t I fly to holiday and drive with my car to work anymore, and how effective is it at all, what I am doing?”, he mentioned. So there are plenty of questions and disinformation, alienating the people on that topic and increasing the wish for politicians to find an easy solution and tell them what to do. It’s not just our task, to talk about it, we also need to find an adequate way of talking to be heard by the people.
Also other speakers mentioned: “climate change needs to be sexy” and showed several examples of similar topics, which were much more successful, because a more interesting, enthralling and engaging way of communication was used. Other speakers mentioned also a more humorous way of spreading the message around. For example the Song “I’m A Climate Scientist”
At the end of the talks they also mentioned a solution to prevent us from climate change. “We just need to dam the stream of “Front National” and produce clean energy!”
But we were not just dealing with the “Place To Smile” today. Afterwards, I went to the so called “humanenergy”. The activists there projected several texts on the Eiffel Tower, related to Climate change. They will do it everyday, from 18:00 to 22:00 o’clock until Saturday. After that I went back to the hostel and listened to the reports of negotiation group. The groups impression was mainly positive. They didn’t attend today so much at the negotiations themselves, but took part in smaller discussion groups. There they focused on the relations of gender and climate.
So different topics were discussed today and mostly with the question of a more adequate climate politics, communication and responsibility. It’s very important to talk about that and to act after that. If we don’t include wide parts of the society, the movement will fail and everybody will have to deal with the impacts.
Paris, 07th of December 2015
today, our group split into two groups. The ones, who were accredited went to the negotiations and the others joined several events all around the city.
These events were related to topics of art, human rights and environmental justice. In the so called “Centquatre” took an exhibition on climate change place. The stalls were dealing with coal power, fracking, agriculture and nuclear power. Furthermore the place connected speeches and discussions on these topics and presented several DIY solutions for everybody with a wide range from energy production to kitchen design and aquaponics.
Afterwards, we took the train to the “Climate Generations Area” next to the conference hall. It was very nice that we were right at the beginning welcomed by some “Energy trees”, which are functioning like a wind power plant, but very friendly designed.
The Terrain of the “Climate Generations Area” can be visited by everybody and offers a wide range of different organizations and companies presenting their ideas. For most of our group, we were not really satisfied with the offers of that place. All the stalls were just dealing with their own business, but not interacting, searching for a big solution or fighting for any great vision. Furthermore, we felt that the people themselves were not very well informed about their topic. For sure, it is good that this place is existing and people have a good possibility to get informed, to participate, to join the movement, but we were a bit disappointed, that the big topics of Food, Energy, Transport and Architecture were just slightly considered. We were also a missing the passion of the people presenting their topics.
For us, this was a place with it’s eligibiltity, but it turned out to be rather a self – presentation possibility for several big players on the cardboard. So we took the way back to the “Place to Be” where we wanted to attend the “Place to Brief”. This evening, the discussion was dealing with the question, if our current democratic political system has the power and ability to make the important steps towards a sustainable future. For this topic, several political scientists were part of the discussion. Especially with the elections for the regions in France yesterday, this was very interesting. In the elections, the “Front National” got the most votes, which was a big shock for many people here.
After we attended the discussion, the other part of our delegation came back from the negotiations and we had the possibility to exchange the experiences of today. The reports were mainly positive, because most of the states are kind to reduce their green house gases. I also heard, that some states including Germany and France are fighting for the aim of limiting the warming at maximum 1,5°C what would reportedly prevent most of the islands from sinking.
In addition, some native people from the northern parts of Norway, Sweden and Canada had the possibility to present their situation. While we in Europe are just slightly feeling the impacts of Climate Change, they mentioned to feel changes since a whole generation and they would be huge! Also another guy from Chile reported me today that they are these days dealing with effects of global warming in his country.
Today gave us a better view on the things going on here in Paris. Even though, the negotiations are sending positive signals, there is no possibility for us to lay back. Of course, it is easier to give the responsibility to somebody else and to expect from the politicians to solve that problem for us. This is not going to work. Everybody has to take charge and to do as much as possible. Giant impacts on our environment are happening right now. Don’t wait until it hurts, it can’t be too early to act.
Let’s act now!
Paris, 6th of December 2015
Since yesterday, I am here in Paris as part of the SCI International delegation. Today was the first day, we participated at the “place to be” events which takes place at the “Gare du Nord” train station and many other things going on all around the city.
The day started with the common breakfast and the meeting of our SCI group afterward. After we had our little “getting to know each other” round, we clarified our goals, aims and also split into groups which are dealing with several topics, mainly related to communication. Because of the reason, that there were no negotiations today at the UN summit, we spent a huge amount of time at the people’s summit, which was organized like a market. Many different, sustainable, impressing and awesome solutions were presented. Everything was related to the topics of food, energy, water and sustainability. Especially the permaculture scene seems to get stronger and stronger, which is very nice to see. We had many discussions and really nice talks to different people, dealing with the same problems and enthusiasm to fight against the environmental issues.
So when we had seen the main things there, we went back to the hostel to contribute at the everyday meeting called “place to brief”, where several experts are discussing diverse topics. Today, it was related to environmental protection and faith, so it was pretty much connected to one of the “Bresovica youth exchanges’” topic, which took place in November. The day ended with the film “Demain” which is taking a positive look on the future. It presents sustainable solutions for the societies all over the world with many different approaches. This was also as inspiring as motivating.
freedom to pollute
What became even more clear today was, that the Big event here in Paris is not just about climate. It brings all the different topics of sustainability together, as well as all the different people from all over the world. It is also much connected to the SCI topics. In addition to that I would just like to mention how often the peace is mentioned together with environmental justice. I would say, that it’s not anymore seen as two different topics. They are thought together and it is strongly necessary to connect it, there is no other way. Just one example. This morning, there was a lady from the delegation of an pacific island group eating with us at the table. She told us, that there is already half of one island, which is flooded by sea level rising. It split the island into two parts and 700 people were needed to be relocated. It is a frightening information and it makes even clearer what is going on. Climate change is happening now, it is more urgent then never before and we need to take all the actions we can, to prevent the earth from this disaster.
Stay tuned for more news on the following days!
More information from UNCFFF in Paris (COP21):
Climate Action Network daily newsletter from COP http://climatenetwork.org/eco-newsletters
Young Friends of the Earth Europe – 7 climate myths busters http://foeeurope.org/yfoee/climate-mythbusters-cop21-paris