Never Trust a COP: a Report from the UN Climate Summit in Lima

Final words from SCNCC member John F, reporting from the COP 20 2014 UN Climate Summit, Lima, Peru
We will reclaim power from those who don’t act in our interests. We willresist the imposition of a ‘global climate deal’ that does nothing for the climate and even less for people.
They tried to bury us here in Lima but we are seeds and we will grow into a forest of resistance.
– Final statement from climate justice activists at COP 20, Lima, December 13, 2014
Five years ago almost to the day, I stood in the snow and cold of Copenhagen outside the Bella Center where the delegates to the COP 15 climate summit were having no success in delivering the global climate treaty that they had promised to do that week.
And today, after two weeks in Lima, Peru, it must be said that at COP 20, just a year before the new global climate treaty is to be finalized, once again: Nothing of substance was agreed to!
The best political analysis of the present moment that I have seen is that of Jim Shultz, director of the Bolivia-based Democracy Center, in a piece written for TruthOut, under the title “UN Climate Negotiators Drop the Ball in Lima – Now It’s Up to the Grassroots to Pick It Up.” I quote it here at length.
Portraits of a summit
COP 20 is being held here behind the carefully guarded walls of a sprawling military base, where well-dressed representatives of governments, international agencies, NGOs, and the media all mingle together in Wal-Mart style global summit – a rambling assembly of pretty much everything.
The formal negotiations are held in a pair of cavernous halls. To the untrained ear, the discussion sounds like a string of complex acronyms connected by the occasional verb. Another hall features a set of meeting rooms occupied by major players such as the United States, China, the European Union, the Gulf States, and an alliance of global corporations. Here delegates can feast on a string of panels and presentations in which the hosts seek to tout their leadership as saviors of the planet. Across an asphalt walkway, a collection of lesser forces inhabit rows of tiny display stands, from the government of Cuba to a group promoting “climate selfies” as a way to raise public consciousness.


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On Sept 19, 2023 ahead of the Climate Ambition Summit in New York City, climate activists gathered for a rally and civil disobedience outside Bank of America Tower in Midtown Manhattan as part of the March to End Fossil Fuels wave of actions resulting in multiple arrests. Activists demand Bank of America to “Defund Climate Chaos and Defend Human Rights” Photo: Erik McGregor (CC BY-NC 2.0 Deed)

Let’s Save Each Other

Let’s Save Each Other

Illustration by Stephanie McMillan. Used with permission