By now you’re all tuned in to the bones of the agreement and have heard both the huzzahs and the carping. It’s important to note that the final outcome was far better than most of the world had dared hope before the nations converged in Paris. Seems to me that the realists are ready to take it as a floor and build on it. Sure, it could have been better. But good heavens, it could have been worse!! The New York Times today has an excellent piece contrasting the Paris agreement with the Copenhagen disaster.
In fact, as the conference was beginning, Bill McKibben gave an interview where he made it clear that as optimistic as he was about the progress of the movement he started, the final outcome was really beyond his hopes at the time.
For days before the end of the conference, activists led by 350.org, had been planning and training for a massive “red line” flash mob, at an undisclosed location to be announced at a strategic moment. In the nick of time, while the exhausted delegates slogged through the ultimate espresso-fueled negotiating session, the Paris authorities acceded to the inevitable and permitted the demonstration. By noon on Saturday when the thousands poured out onto the Avenue de la Grande Armée leading to the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile, the mood had shifted from protest to celebration.
After rolling out “the red line we must not cross,” the crowd walked across the Seine to the Champs de Mars between the Eiffel Tower and the Ecole Militaire, where we formed a human chain that circled the huge field three times. I was dragged along between a young Socialist organizer from Norway (“We must nationalize StatOil and then shut it down!”) and an economics grad student from Paris who wanted to know what I think of Bernie Sanders.
And then we staggered back to our computers to watch the final plenary live-streamed. The joy, relief, and even surprise were palpable in the hall, and you can watch it here.
Everybody rest up, because this was the easy part. We have said it out loud: “We will all work together to build a low-carbon future for our children and grandchildren, and we will succeed!” So now we have to do it.