by Marc Angelo Coppola
December 31, 2015
Imagine a tantalizing spiral of some of the driest talk you have
ever heard - a combination of watching CSPAN mixed with paint
drying, all the while the world is hoping for a serious climate plan
I think that's a fairly accurate description of how this year's
Paris Climate talks felt to me over the 2 weeks I was personally in
Truthfully, the amount of lawyers, red tape, cautious commitments,
and spinning in circles was enough to make me sick, but I guess this
is to be expected when 195 countries have to find some kind of
Unfortunately there was also a strong resemblance between
talks and a dog and pony show.
Generally pompous people parading around the 'amazing' things their
countries have done that vaguely resemble green initiatives, all the
while smiling graciously for the cameras and offering up headline
worthy sound-bites for their local news stations to broadcast back
at home, mixed with some of the most mundane commentary and judges
watching over the process - this is what this 'historic' event
really looked like.
At every opportunity, each country's bureaucrats and politicians
spent their time discussing the importance of this deal - assuring
us of their country's willingness to act - and the respect they have
for other countries' efforts and thoughts on the matter.
This played on for days like a broken
record playing in an empty house.
Although the headlines might have alluded to a much more "historic
moment" - the only real action steps that were agreed upon were some
of the investments countries would make towards this change
(although where the money goes is beyond me), and the only thing
binding about it all is that countries need to track and monitor
The deal itself does NOT mention fossil fuels or gas, but just says
Net Zero, which means that although they might be looking to reduce
carbon emissions, this deal does not help reduce pollution.
If the oil and gas companies were to
promise to offset their pollution by planting trees, this would of
course be a step up from where we are today, but it doesn't mean
they will stop pillaging and polluting our planet.
If you ask me, it was a historic failure, and to think that all the
real talks happen behind closed doors made it much scarier…
Lobbying Is A
"COP21 brought to you by giant
corporations protecting their interests" should have been the
slogan for the official 'solutions; events happening at the
I kid you not, on day one of arriving at
breakfast I was handed an information book on "Why Environmentalist
Are Wrong About Nuclear" and my heart sank.
The number of false and dirty solutions
being pushed by lobbyist both to the public and behind close doors
We've all seen the scary documentaries that outline how companies
use their dollars and cents to corrupt small town politicians or
whole states, but to see them operate on a world level is concerning
the Paris attacks provided a
rather convenient excuse to remove protesters from pointing out the
corporate sponsored false solutions.
I'm not calling conspiracy here folks,
so calm down - but what I am saying is they took advantage of that
tragedy as a means of muzzling any dissent the activists and even
journalists were trying to uncover.
Dr. Vandana Shiva describes it best in an interview she did
the Valhalla Movement:
People Are Clear What
They Stand Against But Not Always What They Stand For
We all have a pretty good idea of what we should stop doing to our
planet, but I do not believe the solutions, or what we should be
doing instead, are as clear.
Having spoken to many insightful activists and responsible citizens
from around the world who put on some pretty remarkable
demonstrations, tribunals, and events, I discovered there was a lot
of anger and disgust with corporations but much less display of how
we can further support the growth of solutions.
Awareness is clearly
a battle that has been hard fought by these groups but I feel like
now the tides need to shift into the implementation of tangible
alternatives surrounding people's everyday lifestyle.
Greenpeace uses eco-paint
in a bold statement during the Paris
Protest without clear demands and alternative and definitive action
plans push change but they don't create change.
Many many topics were overlooked by most, including the topic of
industrial agriculture (watch
'Cowspiracy' if you haven't
already!), and the talks spent a lot of time discussing the
reduction of carbon emissions but very little time discussing the
sequestration and storing of carbon that is possible with restoring
proper soil biology.
are Truly Rising…
Despite what the media will cover as the main focus of the talks - I
think the real important talks happened in the bars and restaurants
and less known events happening around the city via the convergence
of many movements and organizations coming together and finding more
ways to collaborate.
Photo by Yann Arthus-Bertrand / Spectral Q's John
Although it was a little scary to see how much focus was placed on
just telling the story and how overly flooded the space was with
media and journalists, it was nice to see that a lot of activists
had mobilized, and we began to see a lot more communities finding
ways of being sustainable as well.
I know us at the Valhalla Movement, alongside WISDOM, are looking to
build a school in 2016 as an example, but there were many seeds
being planted in people's minds as well.
The many discussions
surrounding the ideas of collaboration versus competition which
arose give me hope for the world we know is possible in our hearts…
I can say with certainty, however, that the Grassroots still need a
LOT of help!
We need people to start spending their time and resources supporting
the solutions they do feel are worthy of their attention on a daily
basis. In a follow up article I will outline a few steps you can
take to make a deep impact for the good of us all.
There is Hope But Not
in This 'Historic' Deal
In my mind this deal will go down in history as similarly
underwhelming as the Kyoto Protocol.
It's a start, sure, but it
won't stop the status quo until everyday people demand change and
consumers start voting with their dollars.
The agreement states that the parties will hold temperatures to
"well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to
limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial
levels," however the target date for such is by 2100, with emissions
set to officially peak "as soon as possible."
Could this be more vague...?
In fact, based on expert projections, many still believe we are
headed towards 3+ degrees of warming…
Thus I leave you with a fairly grim but very real outlook on why we
need to act WELL before 2100 and we cannot wait for governments,
corporations, or talks to take the actions necessary to mitigate
some serious suffering on our planet.