Paris attacks threaten to upstage U.N. climate change summit
Security worries cancel big march, other events
The global warming movement is reeling in the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attack in Paris — because it threatens to step on its message ahead of the muchanticipated United Nations climate change summit in the French capital.
Although the conference, known as COP21, is scheduled to proceed, climate change activists are bemoaning the cancellations of several high-profile events for security reasons, starting with a planned massive march through the streets of Paris.
The Nov. 29 march, which organizers expected to attract as many as 200,000 demonstrators, was seen as the biggest media draw of a conference that activists are calling the most important climate event of their lifetimes.
French police “have just barred the huge planned marches and protests, effectively silencing the voices of people who are directly affected by these high-level talks,” climatologist Jason Box and 350.org’s Naomi Klein said in a New Yorker op-ed.
“And it’s hard to see how sea-level rise and parched farmland — tough media sells at the best of times — will have a hope of competing with rapid military escalation and calls for fortressed borders,” they wrote.
Oliver Tickell, editor of the Ecologist, said the summit also will have “world leaders distracted from questions of climate” as a result of the massacre Friday by Islamic State extremists, which left at least 129 dead and hundreds more wounded.
To make the topic of climate more relevant, advocates have called for recasting the conference as a “climate-peace” summit aimed at combating terrorism by reducing global warming, on the theory that rising temperatures sow political unrest and economic instability.
Another theory making the rounds is that the Islamic State targeted Paris in an effort to disrupt the summit and make it that much more difficult for attendees such as President Obama to reach a strong agreement on reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
“And that’s an outcome that would suit ISIS — which makes [$500 million] a year from oil sales — together with other oil producers,” Mr. Tickell said in an article written a day after the attack.
Marc Morano, a climate change skeptic who runs the Climate Depot blog, scoffed at the movement’s “lamenting the shift in focus from climate to actual threats like terrorism.”
“They are desperately trying to link ‘global warming’ to terrorism or come up with conspiracy theories on how Big Oil interests may be behind the terror attacks,” Mr. Morano said in an email. “The climate activists are now trying to rebrand the U.N. climate summit as some sort of ‘peace summit’ where addressing ‘global warming’ will somehow solve terrorism and civil wars.”
Mr. Morano, whose film “Climate Hustle” is slated to premiere in Paris during the summit, called it “nothing short of bonkers to think that a U.N. climate summit could help reduce terrorism or improve world peace.”
Whether the climate change movement can keep its supporters focused is another question. Shortly after Paris officials canceled the march, French activists launched an online petition for others to show up at noon Nov. 29 at Place de la Republique for an unauthorized demonstration.
Groups involved with the Climate Action Network, which is organizing summitrelated activism, called on activists to respond by attending one of the thousands of climate-change events that day elsewhere around the globe.
“The government can prohibit these demonstrations, but our voices will not be silenced,” said 350.org France campaigner Nicolas Haeringer.
French authorities have heightened security for COP21, scheduled to run from Nov. 30 through Dec. 12. Leaders from nearly 200 countries, including Mr. Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, are expected to attend the conference.
Climate change groups had planned a mobilization for Dec. 12, but that was also canceled. Still scheduled to proceed are a Citizens Climate Summit on Dec. 5 and 6 and a Climate Action Zone from Dec. 7-11, according to the Climate 21 Coalition.