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Live from COP21: Two different worlds?

UPF:s very own UFS-representative and board member, Kajsa Fernström Nåtby, is, together with Klara Ezvik Nyström from UF Uppsala, spending the week in Paris, following COP21. This is part of a series of posts about their experience there. Enjoy! 

Kajsa Blogg #4 bild 1
Source: Flickr

When this is being published, one of the largest climate actions of civil society will take place in Paris. D12 is an action of civil obedience to show what people are willing, and not willing too, tolerate. The question is whether or not world leaders will hear the activists’ frustrated words? Will the action reach the negotiations? Will they listen? Due to present security situation, the French government prohibited all public gatherings before the negotiations started. The huge climate march that was planned for Sunday 29th was cancelled in Paris and the plans for D12, was initially abandoned. Despite the restrictions people still found new creative ways to make D12.

While walking through the metro station during these two weeks of ongoing UN negotiations in Paris, you notice a lot of powerful messages and projects. Among many we found one truly outstanding. A canoe was brought from the Amazon rainforest to le Bourget in Paris where the negotiations are stationed. The wish with this action was to enlighten the consequences climate change has, both for the Amazon rainforest itself but also for the indigenous people living there. Before entering the public space the canoe was launched to unite the French water with the origin of the canoe, the rivers of the Amazon. This was supposed to show the negotiators how necessary our global collaboration is for this agreement.

Another journey with COP21 as final destination was the relay race called Run for Your Life. An arctic stone travelled from Kiruna in the north of Sweden together with a collection of different stories about climate engagement. Approximately one thousand people participated, either running or walking, while telling the world their personal story and reason to engage. The stone travelled over 4300 kilometres and reached le Bourget in Paris on the 30th of November. The activists hope that their messages are strong enough to enter inside the negotiation hall and remain echoing there, but that’s probably very unlikely.

Meanwhile negotiators are arguing the composition of a sentence. Jonas Dahlström, negotiator for Tuvalu, told us that they discussed whether or not a sentence should start with “a” or “an” during half an hour. An insignificant question in contrast to the real question at stake during COP21, a question so far away from the urges expressed from the “outside”. Dahlström continued by telling us that the ones taking up the debate is doing it just to slow down the pace of the process. The slower we move forward, the weaker the agreement will be. “It was with the same purpose Saudi Arabia through in the brackets about paying special respect to ‘people under occupation’,” Jonas Dahlström told us. In drafts of the agreement brackets around a sentence or a word means that there is disagreement to whether or not that should be included in the final text. In the beginning of the week one could read in the purpose of the agreement, brackets saying that the agreement should be implemented on the basis of […the rights of peoples under occupation]. According to Dahlström this was done with the objective to shift attention from climate to another topic of foreign affairs, the Israel-Palestine conflict, since this would consume a lot of time. Reading the agreement, a lot of brackets can be found concerning topics like this one. Political areas and statements like those above are a way for undedicated countries to slow down and undermine the agreement.

Youth activists showing their discontent with the vague agreement. Source: Kajsa Fernström Nåtby
Youth activists showing their discontent with the vague agreement. Source: Kajsa Fernström Nåtby

The contrast between the actions happening around the negotiations and the actual work going on inside is tremendous. You could call it two parallel worlds. They talk about the same thing, the future of our climate, but yet on so very different levels. Total decarbonisation civil society screams, “A” instead of “an”, the negotiators argue. The existence of two worlds when it comes to negotiations like this might be inevitable. Instead the question of interest is if the process going on inside at all has any exchange with the powerful messages being stated just outside? Did people run from Kiruna or paddle from the Amazonas in vain?

Source: Kajsa Fernström Nåtby
Source: Kajsa Fernström Nåtby

Kajsa Fernström Nåtby  and Klara Ezvik Nyström

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