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You may not be able to march for the climate in Paris, but there's plenty of other events taking place all over the world. Photo: People's Climate March in New York, 20th September 2014 by Canopic (CC BY-NC-ND).
You may not be able to march for the climate in Paris, but there's plenty of other events taking place all over the world. Photo: People's Climate March in New York, 20th September 2014 by Canopic (CC BY-NC-ND).
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The Paris attacks make climate protests more important than ever

Nick Dearden / Global Justice Now

19th November 2015

There is a sad irony in the security clampdown on the climate 'mobilisations' planned for COP21 in Paris, writes Nick Dearden. Because those affected are the very people who are most commited to building a green, just, peaceful world free of the chaos and disruption that climate change is bringing.

We have a duty to stand up and continue to fight for a just and livable planet for all. We will continue to mobilize to build a world free of wars, and atrocities, and the ravages of the climate crisis.

A few days ago I was thinking how deeply ironic it would be if climate activists from around the world were among the first to fall foul of France's emergency powers.

And so it has proved with yesterday's announcement that the 29th November Climate March in Paris and the 12th December mass mobilisation have both been prohibited by police.

Without knowing the reasons for the police decision - and they may be very good ones - one thing is clear: those campaigners have nothing to do with the brutal attacks on Paris last Friday night. On the contrary, they will challenge the unequal, unsustainable and militaristic policies on which terrorism has thrived.

We've been here before. In the years before the 9/11 attacks on the United States, a powerful movement had grown to confront the institutions that run the world. Little-known organisations and networks like the WTO, IMF, World Bank and G8 were thrust into the limelight, their summits besieged by protestors for the poverty, inequality, conflict and climate destruction that they fuelled.    

The movement was perhaps the most global in history - connecting up fights against water privatisation in Bolivia, landlessness in Brazil, sweatshops in Bangladesh, and occupation in Palestine.

Success! And then the chill ...

Beyond the knowledge and skills it gave to those involved, it met with considerable success, halting the trade offensive in the World Trade Organisation, breaking the pharmaceutical industry's deadly blockade on HIV medicines and reducing the International Monetary Fund to near irrelevance.

The movement faded in the wake of 9/11. Energy was channelled into stopping war, civil liberties were cracked down on, and protestors were portrayed as terrorists. In some parts of the world, most notably Latin America, the challenge to free market fundamentalism continued, but the global momentum was largely lost.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, protests were cancelled to give respect and space for reflection. The neo-conservatives felt no such compunction, seeing in Al-Qaeda a perfect 'enemy of civilisation' which could be used to mobilise or distract populations.

Oil wars, energy grabs and a corporate assault of democracy passed above and below the radar. In the burning remains of Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, the foundations for today's seemingly never ending war was laid.

Our struggle for climate justice will not stop!

The climate movement has matured, moving from a focus on behavioural changes (recycle your paper and change your lightbulbs) to confronting the free market fundamentalism that shapes our society.

Free trade agreements like TTIP, EU-wide austerity policies and the financial deregulation once again being pushed by the City of London are completely at odds with halting climate change. They are also at odds with building a fairer, freer, more equal, and peaceful world which can undercut terrorism.

A broad cross-section of French campaigners have been clear: "Our struggle for climate justice will not stop. We have a duty to stand up and continue to fight for a just and livable planet for all. We will continue to mobilize to build a world free of wars, and atrocities, and the ravages of the climate crisis."

We must all stand with them, including through attending demonstrations in EdinburghCardiff and London on 28th and 29th November. Western leaders have not made our societies safer or fairer, in fact, the Paris atrocities are another symptom of a world in deep trouble.

It doesn't have to be this way. But we do no service to the victims of terrorism by drawing back from our campaigns or allowing anti-terror laws to silence our protests. We need to stand up for another world now more than ever. 

 


 

Nick Dearden is director of the Global Justice Now and former director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign.

Climate March on 29th November - find an event near you! Or Join Global Justice Now, Reclaim the Power and other organisation on the 'System change, not climate change' bloc on the London climate march on 29th November and on Scotland's Climate March in Edinburgh on 28th November.

See also: 'The Ecologist Guide to the COP21 mobilisations'.

This article is an updated version of one originally published by Global Justice Now.

 

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