Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Pau France: Climate resistance to #StopMCEDD deepwater oil conference


Original article published at San Fransisco Bay Area Indymedia for Day 1. This article now contains updates from Day 2 and Day 3.

Over a 1000 people participated in events over the three days in opposing the conference. This included a protest camp - Camp Sirene, civil disobedience in blocking the entrances to Palais Beaumont, symbolic protest actions at hotels delegates were staying at, a human chain around Palais Beaumont, a mass die-in, and a free concert. The MCED summit was severely disrupted.

Latest: French Environment Minister announces moratorium on offshore Mediterranean oil and gas exploration.
500 climate activists disrupt conference on first day
Photo and Video compilations

A 350.org press statement (fr) described the third day:

This morning, as it was the last day of the summit MCEDD, 150 activists managed to block from 7:30am different entrances of the Beaumont Palace to meet members of the world's largest oil and gas companies. Inflatable Cubes, breakthroughs of police roadblocks, handcuffing activists attached to delegates or logistics truck of the organizing company of the summit, occupying different pathways have forced over 70 delegates to stay outside, while others stepped over the bodies of activists lying on the street. The day began with the symbolic blockade of a hotel where some delegates were sleeping, an oiled mermaid placed inside a climate crime scene recalling that the companies participating in the summit organizing a climate crime with premeditation.

At 12:30pm, almost 500 people have symbolized a giant die in front of the doors of the Palais Beaumont to represent victims of climate change. Firey signs promoted the additional degrees that threatened the planet if no measures were implemented to curb the current trajectory. This last day of action marked the completion of three days and nights of continuous mobilization during which the climate activists have managed to create a situation of abnormality greatly disrupting the holding of MCEDD.

Leaders of community and climate organisations in France commented on the conference and the protests:

Malika Peyraut, Friends of the Earth France, said "The Pau summit brought together real climate criminals, that is to say, multinational companies such as Total, BP, Shell who are causing global warming widely, greater than + 1.5 ° C. The poorest people are already paying a heavy price."

"This summit shows the limits of voluntary non-binding commitments, such as those recorded in the Paris Agreement, while keeping global warming well below 2 ° C, involves freezing almost all the proven reserves of fossil fuels, " said Maxime Combes, Attac France.

"The ocean is the new frontier of the dash for gas and oil," denounced Olivier Dubuquoy of Ocean Nation. "The deep-sea drilling represents 70 per cent of Total's drilling activities."

"We need to take responsibility," says Txetx Etcheverry, movement Bizi!, "What we did here, organizing actions of civil disobedience and public demonstrations to prevent the holding of the summit and call public opinion."

"We, we want the commitment that we have taken on 12 December at the COP21: to block the destruction of the environment, ensure that the red lines of a just and sustainable future are never crossed. In Pau, we have honored that promise, "said Nicolas Haeringer of 350.org.

These conferences are usually held without media focus or protests. Activists are stepping up their citizen mobilization to demand a response from government and business to the goals agreed to at the United Nations Climate conference in Paris and in the Paris Agreement.

Cécile Marchand from the Movement for Nonviolent Action COP21 said "The message we send from Pau is clear: they can no longer meet without us stopping them; they will no longer engage in new projects without us intervening in their climate crimes by non-violent actions. We are determined to get out of the climate emergency and make the transition to a livable and united world."

Upcoming protests for sustainable transition include blocking the International oil Summit in Paris on April 21; participating in the Breakfree from Fossil Fuels global protest including locking actions of a coal mine in Germany, from 13 to May 16; and in the northern autumn protests related to nuclear fuels and a day of mobilization against the Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant.


French Environment Minister announces moratorium on offshore Mediterranean oil and gas exploration

Significantly, a day after the MCEDD conference, on Friday April 8, France's Environment Minister Ségolène Royale, at the second national conference on the ocean, announced an "immediate moratorium on the search for hydrocarbons in the Mediterranean", given the "dramatic consequences" that an accident during exploitation could have in this almost closed sea.

"I will not allow more exploration in the territorial waters or on the continental shelf," Royale insisted, according to a report in Lemonde (fr)

Whether or not this announcement was in response to the #StopMCEDD protests, it is significant and marks more government sanctioned restrictions on offshore oil exploration and development.


500 climate activists disrupt conference on first day

The Oil and Gas companies are holding a conference on deepwater oil and gas and how to be more efficient to further exploit deep sea fossil fuels. About 500 climate change activists have blockaded and disrupted the first day of the conference.

The largest oil and gas companies around the world have decided to meet in Pau from April 5 to 7, less than 4 months after the COP21. There goal is to increase the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the sea. "Forever further, ever deeper and in conditions more extreme is a crime against the Oceans", denounced climate protection organizations. The coalistion of community, environmental and climate organisations announced they would block the holding of this strategic summit, using non-violent actions and mobilizations. The protests were preceded by a climate action camp, Camp Siren.

Activists say that choosing the climate is blocking the exploitation of new hydrocarbon deposits and protecting the ocean. They ask that the French government: suspend any type of financing of the fossil fuel sector - neither grants nor investment for coal, gas and oil; and to cancel ongoing hydrocarbon deposit boreholes and cancel all exploration and exploitation rights by fossil fuel companies. The money diverted from fossil fuels must go to the transition to fair and sustainable societies. It must also fund the conversion industries and transition of those presently working in fossil fuels.

Total’s executive Arnaud Breuillac articulated that due to the fall in oil prices since 2014 oil company profits have suffered and forcing companies to cut costs and find savings, but that oil and gas was still needed despite the growth in renewables.

“To ensure the right level of profitability, oil companies and services companies must work together to find innovative ways to bring cost down,” Breuillac told other oil industry executives and experts according to Reuters at the conference.

“We need to increase our collaboration, to find better ways to share risks and to collectively find a new balance,” Breuillac said. They are hoping to manage and ride the downturn, even though the climate imperative is that oil and gas development needs to stop.

One the first day protesters successfully disrupted and blockaded the conference venue, both from the inside and outside. French Journalist Patrick Piro has put together this storify (fr).

In the lead up to the conference I prepared this storify for background

After 9 hours people are still blockading the entrance to the Palais Beaumont where the conference is being held. Pau is the headquarters of Total's research and development division.

One of the activities on the blockade was a lecture on strategy of non-violent action of Jean-Marie Muller, a major French theorist on the strategies and practice of non-violent action.

"Each time that the gravediggers of the #climate will hold a Summit of this kind, we will be there!" said one of the speakers, C Marchand.

Another speaker said, "This morning we send a signal strong: the peoples of the world will enforce the Paris agreement!"

"Our actions of civil disobedience are legitimate. We Continue to draw the red lines of the climate!" said a third activist.

Yes, teargas was used indiscriminately against non-violent protesters. Antoine Simon from FoE Europe commented, "Medics, first target of police tear-gas... This is how non-violent actions are treated these days."

Climate activists faced off the riot police singing "without hatred, without weapons, without violence". Their reply to batons is non-violence. "Police, go slowly, we're here for your children" they chanted.

Under the police gaze activists sing "and one and two and three degrees, it is a crime against humanity!"

Two activists infiltrated the conference and locked themselves to plenary chairs, before being cut free and excorted out by a large number of riot police. The intervention was actually applauded by part of the audience, and quite a few filmed or photographed the interaction.



Video compilations

Day 1:


Day 2:


Day 3:


Photos

Day 1 photos by 350.org:

Day 1 #StopMCEDD, France April 2016

Day 2 photos by 350.org:

Day 2 #STOPMCEDD France April 2016

Day 3 photos by 350.org:

Day 3 #STOPMCEDD France April 2016

My storify reports

Catch the action on social media at my Storify: Pau France: #Climate resistance to #StopMCEDD deepwater oil conference Day 1

Catch the action on social media at my Storify: Day 2: #Climate resistance to #StopMCEDD deepwater oil conference in #Pau

Catch the action on social media at my Storify: Day 3: #Climate resistance to #StopMCEDD deepwater oil conference in #Pau