The Paris Climate Talks are over. Now what?

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click to enlarge The Paris Climate Talks are over. Now what? - Kelly Benjamin
Kelly Benjamin
The Paris Climate Talks are over. Now what?


There were many times, as I wandered the corridors of the giant airplane hangar in Paris where world leaders once again met over the last two weeks to attempt to hammer out a deal to cut fossil fuel emissions, where I thought to myself: "I wish my Republican friends could see this."

Is it still humanly possible, after hearing testimony from scientists from across the planet on the correlation of fossil fuel use and global temperature rise, ocean chemistry, ice cap melt, depleting fisheries, salt water intrusion, desertification, flooding, drought, insane storms and the general fucked up ecosystem chaos that is occurring right now, to believe this is some liberal hoax dreamt up by Al Gore?

We know the answer to that question and it's shockingly fucking stupid.

The alarming disconnection from reality that much of the Right in the U.S. embraces in the face of overwhelming evidence should be a wakeup call that these fossil fuel-bought-and-paid-for lunatics are hell bent on destroying the planet in exchange for a quick buck and have no business holding office or making legislative decisions anywhere in this nation.

click to enlarge The Paris Climate Talks are over. Now what? (2) - Kelly Benjamin
Kelly Benjamin
The Paris Climate Talks are over. Now what? (2)
After two weeks of tense talks in Paris, leaders from 196 nations finally came to an agreement on addressing climate change with a goal of keeping global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius and preferably at around 1.5—a sticking point for low lying island states that are literally being washed away as climate change accelerates.

Whether the agreement is good or bad depends on whom you ask.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the "historic agreement" will accelerate the shift to a thriving clean global economy by sending a message to corporations and the marketplace that fossil fuels are too expensive to continue too burn. E.U. Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete called the agreement a "success for the High Ambition Coalition," referring to a group of 100 nations organized by the U.S. and E.U. and whatever developing nations they could strong-arm into it—-sort of like the "Coalition of the Willing" during the Iraq invasion with the U.S. doing the heavy lifting and backroom wheelie dealies so they could get their way.

However, former NASA scientist Professor James Hanson, largely credited with being the father of climate change awareness, called the deal "(b)ullshit-just worthless words. We have a 2 degree target and then try to do a little better every fews years is just promises, no action."

Bill McKibben, co-founder of climate advocacy group 350.org was equally pissed off but slightly more hopeful (sort of).

"It's possible that this saves the chance of saving the planet-—if movements push even harder from here on out," he said.

click to enlarge The Paris Climate Talks are over. Now what? (3) - Kelly Benjamin
Kelly Benjamin
The Paris Climate Talks are over. Now what? (3)
If there is one thing that COP 21 proved it's that there is a large, growing, and powerful, international Climate Justice movement pushing to create a post-carbon economy and save the planet, putting pressure on bureaucrats to come up with an agreement that actually works toward creating policy that keeps fossil fuels in the ground.

On Saturday, as world leaders from those 196 countries finalized the Paris Agreement, several thousand Climate Justice activists from all over the world took to the streets of the French Capital in defiance of the French Government's State of Emergency implemented after the November 13 terrorist attacks. The loud, colorful, and peaceful procession accompanied by multiple marching bands, "polar bears," clowns, and giant bouncing balls of "carbon" began at the Arc de Triomphe and winded its way across Paris to the Eiffel Tower, where demonstrators staged a mass sit-in at the base. French police were largely hands-off during the actions after being criticized for teargassing demonstrators at the Place de l'Independence and raiding activist houses and workplaces across Paris.

This reporter interviewed dozens of activists from across the world during the march. You can hear those interviews here.

More photos from the march can be found here.

Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein attended Saturday's protests and summed up the meaning of this movement that is taking place across the world.

"The principles of this climate justice movement is energy democracy not just switching from Exxon selling us fossil fuels to solar panels, it's about communities owning and controlling their own renewable energy," she said. "We use to think that it was our job to save the world until we realized that we are nature really saving ourselves."

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