Here’s What We’ll Do After the Paris Climate Summit Drops the Ball

No global agreement is coming to save the day. Our powers lie elsewhere, in our communities especially, and this is where we must take the battle.

by Jim Shultz – first published in Yes! Magazine

cop21-660x330Across the world, the eyes and the aspirations of climate activists are turning toward Paris. At the end of this month, delegations from more than 190 nations will gather in the French capital for the 21st annual U.N.-sponsored global summit to address a planetary crisis: our warming Earth. But COP 21 (the acronym stands for “Conference of the Parties”) will not be just another climate summit. The Paris meeting marks the deadline for reaching a new a global agreement—a “final exam” preceded by years of complex negotiations. It is that looming deadline that is making the Paris summit the object of intense attention from governments, activists, and many others.

Heads of state from around the world will descend on Paris, offering up a parade of lofty statements about forward progress and a string of announcements about their new commitments. Outside of the summit, a diverse alliance of climate organizations, labor unions, youth groups, and many others are mobilizing to turn hundreds of thousands into the streets of Paris, as well as other cities across the globe. The marches will call out the inadequacy of government promises and demand a serious global commitment to keep 80 percent of remaining fossil fuels in the ground and a swift global transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

The reality, however, is that we already know the essence of the climate deal humanity will awake to the day the conference ends, and the news isn’t good. While the Paris accord will mark an important global recognition of the crisis, and a loose structure in which nations pledge to act, none of that will halt the crisis that is already changing the planet in huge ways.

Paris will make it official that no global agreement is coming to save the day. The work of taking concrete action will still lie ahead. And the center of that action is going to come increasingly from creative communities taking leadership on their own and joining forces.

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