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C.3.c.ii. Mobilizing around UN Conferences, International Law and National Government Policies

Volume Two -> C. Green Campaigns and Protests -> C.3. Mobilizing to Prevent Climate Change and Planetary Destruction -> C.3.c. Campaigning to Stop Climate Change -> C.3.c.ii. Mobilizing around UN Conferences, International Law and National Government Policies
From Paris to 2030: A Call for Climate Change Leadership, The Elders, 09/12/2020,

The Elders, a lobbying group for the environment chaired by Mary Robinson (former President of Ireland) joined leading climate experts to mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement at a virtual conference. This was also hosted by Project Syndicate and the European Investment Bank and includes a two hour video clip of  the panel discussion.

Glasgow's Festival of Climate Resistance, Peace News, issue 2657, 2022, pp. 7-7

Provides brief examples of protests and related activities in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021 during the COP 26 Conference. Almost all the events were organized by the COP 26 Coalition, a UK-based coalition of groups committed to climate justice, which also assisted activists from abroad.

Corbet, Jessica, Indigenous-Led Action Outside White House Urges Biden to Protect People Not Polluters, Common Dreams, 30/06/2020,

Reports on three-day demonstration spearheaded by the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies.

Elson-Watkins, Rebecca, Paving a Path to COP 26, Peace News, 2021, pp. 7-7

Provides a round up of what UK based environmental bodies were doing to foreground climate and environmental issues in the run-up to the Glasgow Conference, both in terms of  protest and direct action and in terms of green initiatives such as creating 'green towns'.  It also references the website of the COP 26 Coalition.

Engelfried, Nick, US Climate Breakthrough: How young activists in the Sunrise movement turned the old idea of a Green New Deal into a powerful movement, Apr-May 2019, Peace News, issue 2628-2629 , 2019, pp. 14-15

First published on Waging Nonviolence website:

See also: Horton, Adrian, Dream McClinton and Lauren Aratani, 'Adults Failed to take Climate Action. Meet the young activists stepping up', The Guardian, 4 Mar. 2019.

Interviews with young activists in the Sunrise Movement.

Gabizon, Sascha, Women's movements' engagement in the SDGs: lessons learned from the Women's Major Group, Gender & Development, Vol. 24, issue 1, 2016, pp. 99-110

The purpose of the Women’s Major Group is to make sure women’s NGOs have a voice at the UN in framing policy on sustainable development and environmental issues. This articles focuses on the Group’s role in negotiations for the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and assesses the effectiveness of civil society involvement.

Hertsgaard, Mark, How Is (Still) Changing the Climate Justice Movement, The Nation, 09/12/2014,

Outlines how the organization founded by US climate activist Bill McKibben in 2007 was still promoting climate activism: supporting the indigenous struggle against the Keystone XL oil pipeline, urging universities and other bodies to stop investing in fossil-fuel companies and playing a significant role in organizing hundreds of thousands at the September 2014 People's Climate March in New York city. Hertsgaard also notes's role in international lobbying and activism in the run up to the UN Paris Climate Conference in 2015. The article was written just as McKibben was standing down as chairman. 

See also: for a brief history and assessment, including explanation of the organization's name, which sums up McKibben's belief that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere needs to fall to 350 parts per million, or below.

Hicks, Kathryn ; Fabricant, Nicole, The Bolivian Climate Justice Movement: Mobilizing Indigeneity in Climate Change Negotiations, Latin American Perspectives, Vol. 43, issue 4, 2016, pp. 87-104

The authors note that many of the groups in the Bolivian coalition mobilizing against global warming draw on indigenous philosophy and worldviews to oppose value commitments to economic development. Drawing on fieldwork in 2010, they assess the relationship between state and non-state actors and argue that the coalition has had a significant global impact, despite the failure of multilateral climate change negotiations.

See also article by the same authors: 'Bolivia vs. the Billionaires: Limitations of the "Climate Justice Movement" in International Negotiations', Nacla: reporting on the Americans since 1967, Vol. 46, issue 2, 2013, pp.  27-31. DOI:

Examine's Bolivia's role at UN Conferences in Copenhagen and Doha and notes the strength of the opposition, not only from powerful global companies blocking real reduction iof carbon emissions, but 'the capitalist economy itself'. They also discuss the World People's Conference in Bolivia in 2010 and report criticisms of Evo Morales reliance on extractive industries f or economic development, despite his 'anti-capitalist discourse'.

Higgins, Polly, Eradicating Ecocide: Exposing the Corporate and Political Practices Destroying the Planet and Proposing the Laws to Eradicate Ecocide, 2nd ed., 2015, pp. 204 (pb)

International lawyer and expert on ecocide Polly Higgins sets out the full case for an international ecocide law which would hold corporations and governments to account for actions and policies that result in massive harm to the environment. She also examines how law has operated effectively in other contexts. The book is linked to the international campaign she headed to broaden the remit of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to include ecocide as a crime (alongside genocide, war crimes, crimes of aggression and crimes against humanity). An example of ecocide was the massive oil spill of 134 million gallons by BP in the Mexican Gulf in 2010. Higgins died from cancer in 2019, but an international campaign continues. See:

See also: Cooke, Ben, 'Could Ecocide become an International Crime?', New Statesman, 16 Mar. 2020.

Useful overview of possible examples of ecocide, such as the 2019 Amazon forest fires and tar sand oil extraction , and of the goals and current strategy of the campaign, now headed by Jojo Mehta. The campaign now focuses on getting support from states most vulnerable to climate change (any ICC signatory state can propose an amendment to the Rome Statute governing the court, and the votes of all states are equal). The South Pacific island state, Vanuatu, has indicated it might initiate the process - if two thirds of the signatories agree the ecocide law would apply to them. Cooke notes that the idea now has support from Extinction Rebellion activists, and that Pope Francis indicated in 2019 that he was considering making ecocide a sin

Lakhani, Nina, ‘A continuation of colonialism’: indigenous activists say their voices are missing at COP 26, The Guardian, 03/11/2021,

In the aftermath of the 2016 Paris accords, according to the international non-profit Global Witness, one in three of those killed were indigenous people. This article reports on indigenous voices and their exclusion from COP 26.

See also: If Not Us, Then Who?, Climate Week 2019.

Focuses on the role of indigenous and local people in protecting the planet and fighting for climate justice.

Newell, Peter ; Simms, Andrew, Towards Fossil Fuel Disarmament, Peace News, Vol. 2652-2653, 01/01/2021,

The article argues that the success of the campaign which resulted in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons provides an example of how global mobilisation around a moral idea can have significant political results. Noting that the Parsi Agreement on limiting climate change does not even mention fossil fuels, the authors argue for a 'Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty'. This would impose a moratorium on developing fossil fuels by rich countries, phase out their use, provide for an end to extracting such fuels, and offer technological support to developing countries to increase alternative sources of energy. They note that growing numbers of people, including prominent political figures like Mary Robinson, now support the idea of a treaty to keep almost all remaining fossil fuels underground.

Teague, Ellen, Thousands Lobby for Action on Climate Change, The Tablet, 27/06/2019,

This report in a Catholic newspaper stresses the role of Catholic and Christian bodies in this 'The Time is Now' mass lobby of the Westminster Parliament organized by the Climate Coalition (coordinating 132 environmental, social and religious bodies in the UK with a focus on lobbying). Teague reports: 'the whole day event started with a walk of witness down Whitehall, with Columbian missionaries, Jesuit Mission, Salesians, Arocha, Pax Christi and more'. About 12,000 took part, and over 350 MPs were lobbied.

See also:   

Walker, Clare, COP Comes of Age, Dec-Jan 2015, Red Pepper, 2015, pp. 32-33

Discussion, in light of lessons from the 2014 People's Climate March. of how to prepare for mobilization at the UN Paris Conference of the Parties on Climate Change 

See also: Worth, Jess, 'Climate Justice Comes to Copenhagen', New Internationalist, 16 December 2009

See also: Peoples Climate Movement 'To change everything, we need everyone',

Sets out policy: to demand radical action on climate change, through mass mobilization and alignment with other movements for economic and racial justice. Provides very brief overview of campaigning since 2014 People's Climate March.

Yoon, Kate, Towards an Equitable and Effective Climate Deal: An Interview with Mary Robinson, Harvard International Review, Vol. 36, issue 3, 2015, pp. 35-37

In this interview Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UN Special Envoy on Climate Change, talks about the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice.  She discusses how climate change disproportionately affects women, especially through undermining food security, and notes that many women are farmers in developing countries.

See also: Editorial spotlight: Climate action with women, UN Women, 13 September 2019.

Link to women-led initiatives in Bolivia, the Caribbean and Cambogia to tackle climate change.

See also: Empowering women on the frontlines of climate change, UN Environment Programme, 8 March 2019.

Brief introduction to “Promoting Gender-Responsive Approaches to Natural Resource Management for Peace”, a Sudanese project implemented by UN Environment, UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme.

Websites recommended

Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) - ,

WECAN is a climate justice body which stresses that indigenous women, women of colour, women on low incomes and from Global South countries live on 'the front lines of climate change'. Therefore solutions to climate change require not only ending extraction of oil and gas, but 'building a new economy' based on communal and women's rights, right of nature and the rights of future generations. WECAN aims to mobilise women around the world in policy advocacy (for example at UN climate conferences) and in movement building.