Cardiff Eco-Assembly – Introduction & Reflections on COP21

The aim of this blog is to follow the activities of Cardiff Eco-Assembly, a discussion and networking forum for various activists working to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate change. The following pieces were written following the COP21 Climate Talks in Paris.

France_Climate_Countdown.JPEG-0302c_s878x585(AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

The recent proclamation from Avaaz – comparing the outcome of the Paris talks to the ending of apartheid and calling them ‘a turning point in human history…which gives us the platform we need to realize the dream of a safe future for generations’ -will make many wonder what they have been smoking. The rhetoric from world leaders and the NGO sector is a global agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C, but the reality is a lack of any concrete proposal whatsoever to deliver carbon cuts.

The agreement contains no legally binding targets to cut emissions and no call for fossil fuels to be kept in the ground. Renewable energy is barely mentioned. Discredited market solutions such as carbon trading and offsetting are still promoted. The most important thing about the Paris talks is that demonstrators went to France with their eyes open wide. In 2009, the aftermath of the international climate talks in Copenhagen was that world leaders used the global economic crisis to say they could no longer afford to act on climate change. Widespread demoralisation followed with the NGOs demobilising the movement. In Britain this meant that there was no national demonstration on climate change again for the next four years. This time in contrast everyone knew that Paris was the beginning of a fightback and the networks formed need to keep on the streets.

What is to be done?

Here in Britain we need to fuse the climate justice and anti-austerity movement around ideas such as:

1. Re-nationalising the railways and other public transport to offer a low-carbon alternative to “car-mageddon”.

2. Taking back into public ownership the big six energy companies as part of the transition to renewables.

3. A massive programme of home insulation lowering energy bills for working class and poor families.

4. Creating a National Climate Service like we have a National Health Service to create a million climate jobs at a living wage to cut unemployment and emissions simultaneously.

The old environmental movement based on a politics of personal lifestyle and personal consumption is bankrupt. It is only by building a climate justice movement that can mobilise the masses and appeal to the working class that we can save the planet. As George Orwell once wrote, “if there is hope, it lies in the proles”!

Adam Johannes, Campaign Against Climate Change


I attended COP21 to present along with my colleague, Roni Neff, the scientific evidence around the absolute necessity of addressing meat and dairy consumption if we want to meet our greenhouse gas emissions goals for reducing catastrophic climate change (even the less-ambitious 2-degree goal). Our new report (available here: shows how if we continue on our current trajectory, food consumption will eat up essentially all of our global greenhouse gas emissions budget by 2050, with no room left for energy, transportation and all the other sectors. Roni wrote up a blog post ( describing more about how dietary change was left off the table at COP21 and our experience in trying to add it to the discussions.

In further reflecting on my overall experience at the conference and side events/protests, I left COP21 with very mixed feelings. It’s hard to be critical of something that represents the most progress ever made on global climate change accords, and the palpable energy surrounding the urgency of change was inspiring (especially as an American citizen, given that I regularly encounter climate science deniers). Yet, the deal has fallen short of guaranteeing anything substantial will be achieved beyond rhetoric at this point, and I’m not convinced that the COP21 spaces available for public input provided meaningful opportunities to change that. You can read more of my thoughts here (

Raychel Santo, John Hopkins Centre For A Liveable Future


The Paris Climate talks: What comes next?
Soon after the Paris talks, the media and governments across the world hailed them as the solution to the climate change and also as a great diplomatic success. I think, as do a lot of other people that it’s not nearly enough. I mean, notwithstanding scientific disagreements over the rate of change and the effects etc., emissions from shipping and from military uses are excluded as they have been since the 1997 Kyoto agreements, so how worthwhile can these agreements be?

The agreements also make no mention of individual country responsibilities in the five year accounting system that has been proposed. The 1.5 degree warming limit that has been set up as a target is still not enough to stop some island nations from becoming uninhabitable. I mean sure, apart from the fact that 200-odd countries could sit round a table and put any kind of agreement together is pretty impressive, but somehow I don’t think it’s enough.

The politicians and the media also almost managed to ignore and omit the contributions of the thousands of activists and indigenous people who descended on Paris last month, but I don’t think they quite succeeded. It’s easy to despair with situations like this, but there is a lot to be done. Here in Cardiff we’ve recently managed to get a lot of the environmental activists together in one room for a networking session a while ago – there is so much scope for working together and teaming up on campaigns that I have a lot of hope for the future. Further out, there’s also potential for action – watch this space!

Jack Pickering, Cardiff University People & Planet Society


Join Cardiff People’s Assembly on Facebook for updates, meetings and more information. Thank you for reading.


One thought on “Cardiff Eco-Assembly – Introduction & Reflections on COP21

  1. Great to see this blog up and running.

    I agree that given the inadequacy of legally binding measures from the Paris talks it’s vitally important to put energy into building a mass movement to keep the pressure on for effective climate change and anti-austerity policies and action.

    But running alongside that, as part of the movement, I think it’s important to be consciously strategising and working towards the society that we want in our everyday lives – egalitarian, non-hierarchical and sustainable. We need to be building those principles into our activism and also into our wider community action – thinking about effective structures and relationships in all aspects of our lives – how we organise actions and events, the alliances we build, the way we work and relate to ourselves, each other and the wider world.

    I think that a problem with environmentalism based on lifestyle choices is that it defines us as consumers. But many environmentalists have always seen things much more broadly than that. If we approach personal change and choice as an integral part of our social change action then it’s about finding value in connection rather than consumption.

    Liked by 1 person

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