Paris at­tacks threaten to up­stage U.N. cli­mate change sum­mit

Se­cu­rity wor­ries can­cel big march, other events

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

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.

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