Written by Sarah Huang
As we join COP21, our research is guided by three themes, which will be discussed throughout these blog posts. These three themes include: Translation, Scale, and Performance.
Translation refers to how different actors define problems, solutions and their role in solving problems; defining roles and convincing others to accept and take on these roles; and speaking for other actors.
Scale refers to different processes of scale, such as local, regional, and global that shape how ideas emerge.
Performance refers to how roles are performed and how these lend to how knowledge and identities are legitimized and delegitimized, and how shared meanings are constructed and deconstructed.
As a member of the civil society team, Kim, Liz, Scott, Suraya and I went to the COP21 meeting site Le Bourget. Upon arrival, to the site we walked along the tall metal fence that was separating the site from the roadside. There were armed guards on the inside of the fence on the top of grassy berms. There were also guards located at the gate entrances. As we walked towards the conference center, we were greeted by large columns with each country's flags displayed alphabetically.
A biodiversity stand with volunteers were handing out apples from Carrefour to all people coming into the event. These stands promoted a "Taste of Biodiversity" and "Agroecology as a climate solution". Agroecology is based on a whole-system approach based in traditional knowledge, alternative agriculture, and local food experiences. This promotion of agroecology and an alternative form of agriculture and biodiversity was a strong point, but what was not clear was whether these apples being handed out were a product of agroecology.
While we were standing around, buses were dropping off delegates to attend the formal meetings, and we even caught a glimpse of Al Gore as he walked into the center. Other forms of performance were conducted outside the conference center that called a lot of attention to people coming into the conference center.
The ClimActs #climateguardians from Australia were standing in the front holding up signs for "Climate Justice", "Free our Power", and "Coal Kills". These six women of varying ages were dressed in white gowns and scarves with green wreaths sprinkled with white flowers on their heads. Each of the women were wearing five foot wings that were made of various colored pieces of tulle. These women had been standing outside all morning and were also visiting different sites and movements around Paris. The group was surprised that there weren't other forms of protest happening during this first day of COP21. At this point, we said goodbye to Fernando and Laura as they headed inside to serve as delegates at the formal 'blue zone' meetings.
Another performance was the Earth Guardians group, which is a group of indigenous youth and rappers, who were standing in the center outside the doors of the conference. It wasn't clear whether this was a strategic or explicit performance, but the gathering of various press swarming the youth group and these three rappers standing alongside each other silently, became quite the performance.
I thought these events were very interesting forms of performance specifically the ways in which they displayed particular forms of identity. For me, the performance of angels and the symbology of angels as peace, pure, and guardians was really interesting. According to their website, the act of a guardian as a role in a "peaceful social disruption" as a symbol for climate justice and justice for clean energy resources. This costume and act of silent performance frames an understanding of climate justice is an act of peaceful protest. It makes me wonder: who are the guardians of the earth's natural resources?
The use of angelic symbology as a form of guardian might suggest that we, as a collective, should be guardians of the earth's natural resources. The representation of these angels outside the first day of COP21 sets the stage for a fight for climate justice that is both peaceful, but also needing to claim responsibility as guardians. This form of performance urging for a transition from dirty fossil fuels speaks to the impact that fossil fuels has on world, but does not explicitly mention the impact on the world's most vulnerable populations.
Written by Sarah Huang
The team arrived in Paris this morning after a sleepless night. We might have lost 6 hours with the time change, but after a quick nap, we were up and running! Around 1:00 pm today, we had our first official team meeting here in Paris to discuss logistics, safety, event planning, and gear check. Fernando and Laura will be representing our team at the formal delegate meetings during the next two weeks. The news in Paris for today and tomorrow are about the free transit in the city due to the high traffic of Heads of State coming into Paris. President Barack Obama also arrived in Paris today. This is an interesting point of note as most negotiations have formal delegate meetings at the end of the conference period, rather than fronting them at the beginning. We are interested to see how this change in schedule will impact the events of COP21.
Written by Sarah Huang
Heading into Paris I am most excited about a few events including those pertaining to food sovereignty and gender in relation to climate justice. But I think what I am most looking forward to is the general power and strength that comes from being a part of solidarity and movements fighting for justice. While there has been a lot of dispute and skepticism about whether an agreement will be made in Paris, I believe that there will be an agreement. And I am already feeling empowered seeing movements that have responded to fighting for climate justice, representation, and solidarity with allies worldwide. I am incredibly grateful to be a part of these movements and a part of this research team and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you over the next few weeks.
In the field...
Follow our team as we cover international environmental policy making meetings.
Dr. Kimberly R. Marion Suiseeya, Department of Political Science, Northwestern University
Dr. Laura Zanotti, Department of Anthropology, Purdue University
Follow us on Twitter