I’ve never considered myself a radical youth, a hard-core feminist or any other kind of fundamental advocate. However, being at COP in Paris, I recognized power dynamics that I had for a long time considered things of the past.
I recognized people struggling with antiquated roles that are not visible or formulated but resonated everywhere. I saw women, youth and people from developing countries being marginalized (perhaps inadvertently) by the black-and white masses of the “middle-aged-white-men wearing black”. I am sorry to dig out stereotypes, and my expressions might be a little exaggerated, but my point is, at COP, not all voices are equally heard and considered. Let me describe some of my observations that brought me to these conclusions:
During the two years before COP21, a large group of French and international NGOs, unions, social movement organizations, and grassroots groups united in the Coaltion Climat 21 (and beyond) to develop and coordinate a range of actions to demand climate action and to act for climate justice. The result of this process was a call for action covering the two weeks of the COP.
These plans changed dramatically, however, after the attacks of November 13. While the climate change movement has long faced an uphill battle at COPs, since the terror attacks of November 13, its path has become extra steep.
Monday morning the climate summit started with scores of state leaders arriving in their black cars, delegates and press mostly in hybrid shuttle buses.
But Espace Générations Climat – the forum for all the non-accredited NGOs and activists, remained closed. They were not allowed to open until Tuesday, evidently for security reasons. The amount one has to pay to be there is rather steep. A woman representing a small NGO said they had to pay 1700 Euro for just 9m2.
The Paris climate protests on Sunday 30 November were largely silent. After the 13 November terror attacks and the state of emergency introduced by President Hollande, demonstrations are banned.
At Place de la République, where the monument is still surrounded by messages of grief and the scent of roses, activists gathered in the morning. Several thousand pairs of shoes were placed to draw attention to the ban on demonstrations. A few hours later, some people tried to march, but were stopped by a massive contingent of police who barred all the roads exiting the place.