Published: 25 November 2015

Paris: An opportunity for peace at COP21


By James Melia-Jones, student in the Department of Physics:

“In the wake of the recent awful terrorist atrocities committed in Paris and many other places around the world it seems like the international community has entered a new chapter, a new narrative where the world is far more unstable and uncertain than ever before. Post-9/11 media and politics has failed spectacularly in promoting a peaceful world and continues to instil fear and further divisions throughout all our communities. In this respect the “War on Terror” has failed, we see more war, we see more terror with all sides committing atrocities on innocent civilian people.

“Prior to the attacks in Paris the city was eagerly awaiting the spotlight as it played host to the COP21 (Conference of Parties), the latest in a series of many meetings of global leaders since 1992, the year I was born. They are attempting to find a global solution to the crisis of climate change.

“If we look at the history of the previous COP’s then it can be summarized as follows: Inadequate agreements are reached, flimsy legislation is carried out on a voluntary basis and there are literally no consequences for failing to meet the agreed targets.

“COP21 Paris 2015 is supposed to be different, all countries attending the conference are proposing their own solutions to the climate crisis. This is the first major conference since the two biggest polluters the US and China made a bilateral agreement for co-operation on climate in 2014.

“More than half a million people are expected to descend on Paris for the conference which lasts from 30 November to 11 December. The reason for the large gathering of students, climate activists and ordinary everyday people is to show our global leaders that we cannot allow history to repeat itself with no-consequence voluntary agreements on climate change.

“There was supposed to be a mass climate march throughout the streets of Paris, but due to security concerns and the state of emergency in France this has now been cancelled. Activists arriving at the city are still allowed to demonstrate in private places where security can be guaranteed but not in public spaces anymore. Campaign groups are having to come up with new and creative ways to raise attention to the conference and the climate.

“Realistically, we are expecting COP21 to fail on some level to bring about the real meaningful change needed to take action on the climate crisis. With this expectation however comes something different, people all around the world are building mass-movements on climate change.

“If The Simpsons has taught me one thing it is that in China the word for crisis is the same as the word for opportunity, wēijī (not crisi-tunity as Homer exclaims!). In the climate crisis we have a climate opportunity.

“We have the opportunity to reduce climate change, clean our air, build a new sustainable economy and kick-start a new industrial revolution – the renewable revolution providing millions of jobs. We have an opportunity to reclaim the power from the fossil fuel companies and governments which facilitate the pollution and oil wars globally. We have the opportunity to stand united and defiant in the face of terrorism.

“In the wake of terrorist attacks, the UN Security Council has backed new global military measures to eradicate ISIS. Given that ISIS and Boko Haram are greatly funded by their newly found oil wealth it seems to me obvious that the need to transition to a fossil-free economy is vital in eradicating any future terrorism.

“Prior to COP21 this weekend (28-29 November) there is a global and national day of action. Locally we have the Liverpool People’s March for Climate, Jobs and Justice on Sunday, 29 November hosted by the campaign group Fossil Free Liverpool University who are calling on the University of Liverpool to remove its financial endorsement of the fossil fuel industry by divesting its shares and reinvesting in renewable and sustainable solutions. The Fossil Free movement in coordination with student activist network People & Planet is the fastest growing divestment movement in history and just three days before the Paris attacks a further ten universities in the UK agreed to divest £115m worth of endowments away from fossil fuels. Liverpool too can join the globally growing list of universities and public institutions acting on the right side of history and leading the fight against climate change.”

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One thought on “Paris: An opportunity for peace at COP21

  1. Joanna (Administrator) on behalf of University Communications Post author

    The University abides by a strict code of ethics, which applies to all of its research projects. We believe it is right to provide platforms for discussion and debate, so if you have any views or comments that you wish to share with us, please contact us on

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