COP21 in the wake of terrorism

Several people have asked me how COP21 will be affected by recent tragic events in Paris, and here are major updates that I know about so far (summarized nicely by EcoWatch here):

  1. COP21 is still scheduled to go on as planned. No major changes have been reported, though it sounds like security at the conference facility may well be increased to protect the attendees, including dozens of heads-of-state.
  2. Obama has announced that he still plans to attend COP21.

Some additional reflections of my own…

I figure that *inside* the COP21 conference facility it will be extremely safe. Perhaps safer than any place I’ve ever been. That said, I do have some concerns about how the recent events will affect the attendance and tone of protests surrounding COP21. I also have concerns for the safety of the protesters. First is my obvious concern about any large gathering of innocent people outside of a security barrier. Second, considering how much is at stake in these climate negotiations, I expect emotions to run high with activists inside and outside of the conference grounds. I’ve heard reports that there will be civil disobedience. Combine that with the intensity of those responsible for maintaining security and order (likely to be on edge due to Friday’s events), and it becomes a logistically challenging and emotionally-charged situation. That said, I do not get the impression that France is trying to stifle protest. Indeed, I feel that France is eager to facilitate (and ultimately be associated with) positive COP21 outcome and generally understands that such an outcome depends on “lively” encouragement from activists and observers outside the conference. In my opinion, the best possible scenario would be that the recent outpouring of sympathy and support for France causes even larger numbers of protesters to emerge, but with a uniquely peaceful and loving tone (inspired by the desire for sharp contrast with the recent horrific murders). Call it an epic COP21 love-in. Or a massive caring climate convergence. I just hope that all parties recognize that they’re very likely working towards the same goals, just in different ways: the preservation and celebration of life and livelihoods both now and into the distant future.

UPDATE on 11/16/15: Some HORRIBLE news about COP21 just came in. It looks like protests will be banned outright in Paris surrounding COP21. The article indicates that some 200,000 people were expected to march for strong climate action. Now activists are re-assessing their approach. Even concerts are cancelled. Hopefully other locations around the world will carry on a massive virtual rally. Ugh. Here’s a link to the article by Reuters: http://j.mp/1MhA7Ui . I consider this to be very “negative positive feedback.” More climate change leads to more international strife leads to more likelihood of related terrorism. So then will that mean a perpetually diminishing tolerance for international protest for a peaceful response to climate change? Ugh.

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