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Barlow to intervene at the COP 21 climate summit in Paris-Le Bourget

Maude Barlow in Copenhagen

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be at the United Nations COP 21 climate summit in Paris-Le Bourget, which starts on November 30 and runs to December 11.

The Council of Canadians delegation to the climate summit will also include our Toronto-based executive director Garry Neil, Montreal-based trade campaigner Sujata Dey, Edmonton-based organizing assistant Diane Connors (who is attending with the Canadian Youth Delegation), and Mexico City-based Blue Planet Project organizer Claudia Campero (who will be with the Food & Water Watch delegation).

While in Paris, Barlow and Dey will be particularly focused on demanding the inclusion of a provision in the COP 21 agreement that would mean governmental measures seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could not be subject to investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) challenges through bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) should it be ratified. Just this week, the European Parliament voted to adopt this position. Barlow and Dey will call on European Union members states and other countries to adopt a similar position.

Barlow will also be giving a keynote address on December 1 at the Water, Megacities and Global Change conference that will be held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Agence France Presse has reported, “More than one billion urban residents will face serious water shortages by 2050 as climate change worsens effects of urbanization, with Indian cities among the worst hit…” A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found Mexico City, Johannesburg, Delhi, Manila and Beijing will be among the cities hardest hit by water shortages.

In Paris, Connors and the Canadian Youth Delegation plan to represent the youth climate movement in Canada; hold our leaders accountable for their actions; pursue justice for those suffering the effects of climate change; act in solidarity with frontline communities in Canada and across the globe; and seek solutions to one of the biggest challenges humanity has ever faced. And Campero will be working to highlight that fracking is not a solution to climate change, as energy companies have argued. Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter has commented that industry’s rhetoric on the benefits of shale gas is a ruse. She says, “The industry wants unrestricted drilling and fracking to increase its bottom line. The truth is that fracking is a dangerously false solution to America’s energy challenges.”

Some of the key dates in Paris will be:

  • November 29 – People’s Global Climate March, this will happen both in Paris and in communities around the world on the day before the UN talks begin

  • December 2 – This Changes Everything screening with Naomi Klein, Avi Lewis, Crystal Lameman and others

  • December 4 – Pathways to Paris concert with Patti Smith, Thom Yorke, Dhani Harrison and others

  • December 5-6 – Citizen Summit for the Climate where hundreds of discussions, meetings and workshops on alternatives will take place

  • December 7-11 – Climate Action Zone where “creative ideas and joyful resistance” will fill a cultural centre located in a working-class neighbourhood north of Paris

  • December 12 – mass civil disobedience action at the end of COP 21

This critical UN climate summit starts just six weeks after the federal election here in Canada. The Council of Canadians will be supporting various climate marches across the country, including two high-profile protests in Ottawa. The outreach for the first action says, “From November 5th – 8th, we’ll be creating a kind of ‘Welcoming Committee’ outside the Prime Minister’s residence to welcome the new leader to office and remind him that the people expect leadership on climate change. It’ll be a welcoming party of sorts — which means there will most certainly be some memorable gifts.” There are also plans for a large protest in Ottawa on November 29, just prior to the start of the UN climate talks.

We all have a lot of work ahead of us. While the New York Times editorial board says, “The Paris meeting may well be the world’s last, best chance to get a grip on a problem that, absent urgent action over the next decade, could spin out of control”, Cambridge University researcher Chris Hope has highlighted that the pledges in advance of this summit would likely result in a global temperature rise of 3.6 degrees Celsius in 2100. It comes as no surprise then that while COP stands for ‘Conference of Parties’, it is already being framed as a ‘Conference of Polluters’.

The Council of Canadians accepts the scientific finding that 85 per cent of the tar sands cannot be burned if the world is to limit climate change to 2 degrees Celsius. We have also endorsed the global call that demands “governments have to end subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, and to freeze fossil fuel extraction by leaving untouched 80% of all existing fossil fuel reserves.” We have also endorsed the fifteen demands in the Leap manifesto including a 100 per cent clean economy by 2050 and “no new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extractions decades into the future”.

Further reading
Barlow calls for protection from ISDS challenges in Paris climate agreement (October 2015 blog)
Barlow calls for freeze to fossil fuel extraction on the eve of the Paris climate talks (October 2015 blog)
CETA would hinder policies to address climate change (June 2015 blog)
Harper foils G7 climate plan, Paris is next on his agenda (June 2015 blog)
Looking ahead to the COP 21 climate summit in Paris (January 2015 blog)

Photo: Barlow speaks at a rally outside the Canadian embassy in Copenhagen during the UN COP 15 climate talks in December 2009.