By Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan
In this context, one of the most important world meetings in history is taking place: the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP 21. Virtually all the countries of the world are represented here, through its delegations, which are trying to reach an agreement before December 11, with the aim of avoiding catastrophic and irreversible climate change.
COP 21 is supposed to be the culmination of more than two decades of work within the United Nations to transform society, end the era of fossil fuels, start using renewable energy and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse effect. A massive march was scheduled to take place in Paris on 29 November, the day before the climate summit began, in which more than 400,000 people were expected to participate. However, French President François Hollande declared a state of emergency after the attacks and banned the demonstrations. Critics of this decision argue that global warming is also a state of emergency and that expressing our opposition is the only thing that will save us.
Over the weekend, 10,000 Parisian and international activists formed a human chain that spanned several blocks in Paris. At the end of the action, the activists decided to flout the French authorities' ban on protests and tried to march towards the Place de la République, where thousands of people had placed candles and flowers in honor of the victims of the terrorist attacks. While the French President blamed protesters for destroying the memorial site for the victims, images taken by Democracy Now! show that protesters formed a cordon to protect the site from hundreds of riot police who fired tear gas, concussion grenades and pepper spray.
The day after the demonstration, at the climate summit, we met Yeb Sano, a former negotiator on climate change from the Philippines. We had last seen him at the Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland, in 2013, as Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest in history, destroyed his country and claimed the lives of thousands of people. On that occasion, Yeb Sano emerged for having made an emotional appeal to the world to adopt urgent measures to combat climate change:
“Typhoons like Haiyan and their effects are a sad reminder to the international community that we cannot continue to delay action on climate. Perhaps it is poetic justice that Typhoon Haiyan is so large that its diameter equals the distance between Warsaw and Paris. " Yeb implored the other negotiators: “If we don't do something, then who? If not now when? If not here, where? Yeb Sano had just learned that his brother, A.G. Sano had barely survived the typhoon in his town of Tacloban, which was destroyed.
The following year, as another terrible storm hit the Philippines, many were surprised that Yeb Sano was absent from the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, which was taking place in Lima, Peru. He had been removed from the delegation at the last minute, prompting rumors that under pressure from rich countries like the United States, Yeb had been punished for speaking his mind. On that occasion, Yeb Sano posted on Twitter: “They can silence my voice, but they cannot silence my soul”:
This year, Yeb Sano is participating again in the United Nations Conference on Climate Change. This time not as a negotiator for the Philippines, but as a grassroots activist. He has just walked 1,500 kilometers in 60 days from Rome to Paris on the Peoples' Pilgrimage for Climate Action. His brother, A.G. Sano, who is a street artist, walked by her side and along the way painted six wonderful murals showing pilgrims from around the world marching to Paris. Since he did not have an official accreditation to access the summit, I interviewed him outside the highly fortified security zone. A.G. Sano paid a tribute to a friend of his who passed away during Typhoon Haiyan:
“I came here to bring the voice of my deceased friend. I would just like to tell the world the name of my friend, his name is Agit Sustento. Climate change is as real as Agit Sustento. I was with him the night before he died and the last thing I told him was to take care of himself and his family because we were about to face the most powerful typhoon in history, and that was the last time I spoke to him. He lost his wife, his little son, his mother and his father. His son and his father's body were never found. And I promised that I would tell the world his name. His name is Agit Sustento and he will never see the sun rise again ”.
The best tribute to those who died here in Paris and to the countless victims of climate change would be to reach a fair, ambitious and binding agreement at the climate summit to help make the world safer, more equitable and sustainable.