About 300 climate change activists gathered here in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana today, joining hundreds of thousands of protesters who are taking to the streets in more than 2,000 demonstrations around the world this weekend to demand action when global leaders converge in Paris for the UN Climate Change summit COP 21 which begins on Monday. [Here are links to live global coverage of the demonstrations via the BBC and The Guardian, and the Twitter hashtag #ClimateMarch. ]
The Ljubljana event was organized by the Slovenian foundation for sustainable development Umanotera, Greenpeace Slovenia and other community groups, and featured a variety of speakers including Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković, Ljubljana Auxiliary Bishop Msgr. Dr. Franc Šuštar as well as other activists, scholars and academics.
Given the concern that the majority of Slovenians profess to have about man-made global warming, the late morning turnout under partly sunny skies was somewhat disappointing.
Touted as one of the largest diplomatic conferences ever organized, nearly 150 world leaders (in all, negotiators from 195 countries) including US President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, will gather in the French capital for the COP 21 talks in an effort to hammer out an agreement to curb carbon emissions. The goal initially was to create a global deal that was legally binding, but at least in some circles, talk is shifting however from that since a legally binding treaty would require ratification by the US Senate – considering the hostility and prevailing anti-science mood there, ratification isn’t particularly likely.
The irrational denial claims by US conservatives (and elsewhere, too) aside, COP21 has faced considerable challenges, which will ultimately be conducted under the long shadow of the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that killed more than 130 people. (Even now as I type, the focus in Paris continues to shift from the environment to security as police clash with anarchist groups at the Place de la Republique. A large demonstration planned for today in Paris was banned after the November 13 attacks; some came out anyway and are now being dispersed by police.)
That dark shadow however could actually help hammer out an agreement. Reports the BBC:
“I believe that it will make a deal more likely, because what I feel from the parties is that they are very eager to move,” said Amjad Abdulla from the Maldives, who chairs the Alliance of Small Island States in the negotiations.
A former UK government adviser on climate change and now chairman of environmental think tank E3G, Tom Burke, believes that some leaders will push the line that, by tackling rising temperatures, you remove one of the causes of terrorism.
A few other links of interest that I strongly urge anyone with an interest in this week’s talks to check out:
- Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change (NY Times). If you can only find the time read one, this is that one.
- Six Graphics That Explain Climate Change (BBC)
- Paris Climate Talks: Chasing a Deal (NY Times)
- COP 21 official newsroom (UN)