A turning point for the climate in Paris, but not at the U.N. talks

A turning point for the climate in Paris, but not at the U.N. talks

This weekend was a big turning point at the climate talks. For one thing, the international negotiating team met their deadline of creating a draft agreement to combat global warming. Granted, there are still A LOT of details to be worked out. Including critical questions about whether big economies the the U.S. will really commit to keeping fossil fuels in the ground — or if they’re really planning to keep drilling, mining and fracking all the fossil fuels they do today, and export them all over the world. Also, still to be decided is whether the U.S., Europe and other countries in the global north are trusted enough by countries in the global south to live up to their pledge to finance a just transition to 100 percent clean energy.

It’s on that second point that I saw a real breakthrough — far outside the negotiating rooms and posh U.N. parties. In a working class neighborhood called Montreuil, activists and organizers from around the world put on a massive, two day people’s climate summit. Think of it as a proletarian alternative to the U.N. negotiations, where only a handful of credentialed officials and dozens of corporations are allowed entry.

In our summit organized by and for the frontline activists most impacted by climate change, we helped broadcast a citizen’s trial of Exxon for their crimes against the climate.

Here are 2 quick clips to give you a taste of it:

And here’s a recording of the whole hearing (apologies for early audio quality, we’re posting an updated version soon)

The next day we supported a workshop lead by National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) climate youth and students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities on how to make Climate Justice an integral part of the final U.N. agreement. Here’s an early, raw recording, skip to the last 15 minutes to hear the reportbacks from small groups and some great brainstorm ideas from these young leaders.

And just because we were expecting a critical vote on oil exports soon – we asked those same HBCU and NAACP youth leaders whether they thought Congress should “make a deal” that trades our climate security for a few renewable energy tax credits and a short term budget. You can see what they thought below, and support these Climate Justice leaders by making your own call here.

You can check more photos and videos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) — but believe me, it was electric. I’m convinced we can win the fight for a safe and stable climate, because the power, solutions and actions I saw and participated in this weekend are simply unstoppable.

The same coalition of frontline activists is already hard at work here in Paris making banners, art and plans for a massive mobilization on the 12 of December. Two days before, on the eve of the final U.N. negotiating session, before we take to the streets to cheer or protest the final agreement, we’re breaking bread with the real leaders of this movement. Not the dignitaries and diplomats, but young people from the front lines of the fight for climate justice in the U.S. and god-father of the climate movement Bill McKibben.


Bill McKibben speaks to media at the Exxon trial