Despite the ban on demonstrations, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Paris during the UN climate summit. They protested against the weak results of the COP 21 that will warm the planet by 3 to 4 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. "They committ a crime against humanity," says Themba Austin Chauke of the peasant organisation "La Via Campesina". The industrialized countries have to change their course and limit global warming to 1.5 centigrades, a protester from Edenborough, Scotland demands. "We will be active in the next years. Whatever they decide on this it is not the end of the story. The people will have the last word." Juliette Rousseau, one of the organizers of the protests talks of a "policy of blocking" dissent after the Paris attacks. The French authorities had consciously slown down civil society during the COP 21 with bans on demonstrations, house arrests of activists, closing of the borders and reluctance of cooperation in any meaningful way. "This gave us the feeling that they didn't want our critical voices to 'ruin their party'".
David Goessmann: Welcome to Kontext TV. We are in Paris at the UN Climate Summit, the Conference of the Parties. It is already the twenty-first Conference of this type since 1988. This broadcast is the first of a series of Kontext TV pieces on the climate crisis, false solutions and alternatives in the next months.
Fabian Scheidler: In this segment we take a closer look at the UN negotiations. What has been achieved and what not? Was the outcome of the COP 21 a step into the right direction or even a setback? What are the likely consequences when the planet warms 3 to 4 degrees Celsius as climate science predicts as the result of the pledges made by the countries. And what are the demands of the global climate justice movement?
David Goessmann: We talked to climate scientists, insiders of the negotiations and activists around the world.
Fabian Scheidler: We are starting with the protests. After the attacks in Paris, the French government has cut back on basic civil rights especially during the climate negotiations in and around Paris. Nonetheless there were some actions against the weak results of the COP 21 und the role of fossil fuel industries lobbying to water down the agreement.
Protester: I‘m from Edinburgh in Scotland and I‘m here, because I think climate change is the most important issue of our times and I want to do everything I can to try to prevent dangerous runaway climate change and we‘re sending a strong message to the heads of state and people in power in the climate talks in saying that we won‘t accept an agreement that allows for global temperatures to rise more than 1.5°C, but also to show, that we are going to continue campaigning in the years to come and whatever they agree on is not the end of the story. That people are going to have the last say and are going to keep trying to make a better world, a more sustainable world.
Protester: We are here because we are concerned about obviously climate change and we are from Australia and the Pacific region in particular faces great challenges of rising sea levels so we are here to be part of the historical protests of concern about the future of the world. To the north of Australia, the Torres Strait Islands are also facing rising sea levels just like the smaller Pacific countries. So we are really concerned and everybody should be here to count, to really help the future of the world, basically the future of the world is at stake. And that‘s why we‘re here.
Fabian Scheidler: All demonstrations have been banned by the French government. Also this one is not legal. What‘s your assessment of this?
Protester: Well, we have something to say and we are going to say it. We think, that climate change is a big enough issue to protest, to demonstrate. Entire communities’ livelihoods, forests, regions and countries in the world are devastated by the consequences of climate change so we are not going to stay silent.
Juliette Rousseau: It wasn‘t only about the banned demonstrations, because other things happened, some raids into squads and houses of activists, some activists were house arrested, one of them who we are quite close to and...
Fabian Scheidler: And what were the charges?
Juliette Rousseau: Basically that‘s the wonder of house arrest, that you don‘t need to charge, you don’t need to have previous legal charges you just need to have some police service information saying that those people are highly suspected of being some kind of threat to public order. So that‘s the reason why those people were put under house arrest. And this was kind of a logic that didn‘t appear with the attacks, it was here long before. We had several exchanges with the government through media and also in face-to-face around the fact that we had the feeling months ago that a lot of what they did around civil society was actually meant to make sure that our mobilizations would be as small as possible. For instance, the closing of the borders and the fact that we had been negotiating for over a year with them to make sure that we would have accommodation for thousands of activists in Paris, and they were not cooperating with that. They didn‘t cooperate in this at all. So all this really gives a feeling, that they actually didn‘t like the fact, that are critical voices might ruin their party, which is the best image I have for this.
Bill McKibben: They‘re doing exactly what they said they were going to do, they give us a pathway to a world that‘s 3 ½° warmer than the one we were born onto. They are tapping on the brake, they‘re not stamping on the brake, which is what we need, you know.
Nnimmo Bassey: It‘s not really negotiations because before, nations came with intended nationally determined contributions of global to emission reduction and this is not adding up to bring about a resolution. So they could have very nice discussions, maybe a beautiful paper at the end. But have climate problems been tackled? No.
Deborah Parker: Hello my name is Deborah Parker, I‘m with the Tulalip tribes in the state of Washington in the United States and we‘re here with the Lummi youth, the Lummi nation, and we are here at the COP 21 to share a message that the earth is alive and that we need to protect our mother Earth and so indigenous youths are here to share their message and to pass on the teachings of their grandfathers and grandmothers and so it‘s very important that we listen to those who come from the earth, who practice this traditional way of life. The fossil fuels directly impact our Coast Salish people and there is a young man here who wants to share a message about the impacts of the coal and all of the business and industry that‘s killing our people. It‘s not only killing our people, it‘s killing the land, it‘s killing all of our fish in the sea, clams, we‘re no longer able to dig some of our clams because of the pollution that these industries have done.
Fabian Scheidler: And what is your message to industrialized nations and their leaders here at the COP who are mostly responsible for climate change, for carbon emissions now and in the past, what is your message to them?
Themba Austin Chauke: I would like to say that their activities are crimes against humanity. They‘re criminals and they should be held accountable of what they‘re doing.