Climate activists in Paris are planning a major day of action on Saturday despite a ban on protests put in place by the French government after the Nov. 13 attacks that killed 130 people. "By taking to the streets, we will be clearly and unequivocally rejecting the Hollande government’s draconian and opportunistic ban on marches, protests and demonstrators," says Naomi Klein, author of "This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate." We feature part of a major address by Klein at the U.N. climate summit.
Residents of the largest refugee camp in France, situated outside the northern port city of Calais, often call it "The Jungle." It is a maze of wind-swept, ripped tents and muddy walkways where people informally live in sections according to their home countries. Walking through the camp is like walking through a map of the targets of U.S. bombing campaigns: Iraq, Syria, Sudan and, of course, Afghanistan. By far the largest community in the camp is Afghans who fled the 14-year-old U.S. war in Afghanistan. Democracy Now! visits the Afghan section, where people recount living through the longest war in U.S. history, which President Obama indefinitely extended this past fall.
Broadcasting from Paris, France, Democracy Now! travels an hour and a half north of the city to Calais, site of the largest refugee camp in the country. Six to seven thousand people are camped out in makeshift tents. Their goal is to reach Britain, and each night members of the camp set out along the highway to the Channel Tunnel, where they attempt to cross into Britain by jumping on top of or inside trucks or lorries. We meet Majd, a 21-year-old Syrian man, one of thousands stranded in the the camp. He describes how a Sudanese man named Joseph was recently killed when he was run over by a car on the highway. On Saturday, camp residents protested that the police hadn’t stopped the driver, and held signs reading "We are Humans, Not Dogs" and "What Do the Survivors of War Have to Do to Live in Peace?" This comes as the world faces the greatest exodus of people since World War II. On Monday, the United Nations appealed for $20 billion in additional aid money, saying that at present funding levels the U.N. is "not able to provide even the very minimum in core protection and lifesaving assistance." U.N. officials cited the wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and South Sudan as one of the major reasons there are nearly 60 million people forcibly displaced worldwide. The largest single displaced community is Syrians, with 4 million refugees forced outside Syria’s borders by the ongoing conflict.
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In India, catastrophic flooding in the southern city of Chennai has killed at least 269 people and cut off basic services for more than 3 million people as the army and air force continue rescue operations. The flooding is being described as the worst in more than a century. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has blamed the flooding on climate change. "That region has never seen this a volume of rainfall," says Nitin Sethi, senior associate editor at the Business Standard in India. "Certainly, we are clearly seeing a pattern where rainfall systems are changing and also cities are incapable of adjusting to these kinds of extreme events. That is why I think developing countries like India are saying we need finances and technology to build new cities better rather than making it worse."
"Loss and Damage": U.S. Stymies Push for Compensation for Climate Devastation at U.N. Climate Summit
On Monday, the prime minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sopoaga, said world leaders must prevent the world from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Many of the countries most impacted by climate change—but who did little to cause it—are also calling for the U.N. climate agreement to include compensation for adjusting to climate change, known as "Loss and Damage." But documents obtained by our guest reveal the United States is pushing these countries to forgo such rights. Nitin Sethi is senior associate editor at the Business Standard in India. His recent piece is called "US and EU want Loss and Damage as a toothless tiger in Paris agreement."
Ahead of the U.N. climate change summit in Paris, France, more than 180 nations pledged to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but many climate justice groups say far more needs to be done to keep global warming in check. We speak with one of the world’s leading climate scientists who has come to the Paris talks with a shocking message: The climate crisis is more severe than even many scientists have acknowledged. Kevin Anderson is deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester in Britain. He has said many scientists are self-censoring their work to downplay the severity of the climate crisis.
On Monday in Paris, British Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn addressed the link between labor, trade unions and climate change. We also spoke to him about the connections between war, drilling for oil, and climate. "To some extent, the rush to develop frontier oil resources has reduced, but I’m sure it’s going to come back," says Corbyn. "And you look at the brutality of it, the brutality of the way in which oil drilling has been done in a number of countries, in Latin America, the thirst for oil all over the Middle East and the thirst for oil in other places. We need a sustainable planet. We need a sustainable future. We need sustainable energy sources. They don’t have to be like that."
In his first televised U.S. interview since becoming U.K. Labour leader three months ago, Jeremy Corbyn addresses the refugee crisis. "I think we’ve got to both open up and take in far more of the Syrian refugees, but also take in those people that are living in these desperate camps, because it is inhuman," Corbyn says. "We’re not going to secure the world’s future with razor wire and electronic surveillance of borders. You only secure the world’s future if you deal with the desperate levels of inequality in the world and deal with the disproportionate effects of environmental change around the world."
In his first U.S. TV/radio interview since being elected the U.K. Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn calls for the closure of Guantánamo Bay. "What on Earth are we doing in this world, where we lock people up for now 14 years in Guantánamo Bay, with no charge, no trial, no process, no habeas corpus? A legal black hole," Corbyn says. "It has got to be closed." He recently welcomed Shaker Aamer, the last British resident to be released from Guantánamo, to the British Parliament.
"I Want a World of Peace": In Exclusive Interview UK Labour Head Jeremy Corbyn Opposes Bombing Syria
Three months ago, Jeremy Corbyn shocked the world when he was elected head of the Labour Party in Britain, becoming the country’s opposition leader, vowing to return the Labour Party to its socialist roots, championing the renationalization of public transportation, free university tuition, rent control and a national maximum wage to cap the salaries of high earners. Corbyn has been a longtime antiwar activist who once chaired the Stop the War Coalition. Last week he voted against authorizing Prime Minister David Cameron to begin bombing Syria. A day before the vote, Cameron accused Corbyn of being a terrorist sympathizer for opposing airstrikes. At the U.N. climate summit in Paris, Amy Goodman sat down with Jeremy Corbyn in his first U.S. TV/radio interview since being elected Labour leader. He discusses why he opposed the bombing of Syria, his refusal to drop a nuclear bomb anywhere if he were prime minister, and his call to determine who is funding ISIL.
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French journalist and author Nicolas Hénin spent 10 months as an ISIS hostage where he was held by Mohammed Emwazi. We spoke with him about the growing move among Western countries to close their doors to refugees. "Welcoming refugees is not a terror threat to our countries; it’s like a vaccine to protect us from terrorism, because the more interactions we have between societies, between communities, the less there will be tensions," Hénin says. "The Islamic State believes in a global confrontation. What they want eventually is civil war in our countries, or at least large unrest, and in the Middle East, a large-scale war. This is what they look for. This is what they struggle for. So we have to kill their narrative and actually to welcome refugees, totally destroy their narrative."
In a rare televised Oval Office address on Sunday, President Obama laid out a defense of the U.S. war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, which he said has evolved into a new phase. He described the recent shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., which killed 14 people, as "an act of terrorism designed to kill innocent people," called on Congress to authorize the continued use of military force and outlined his plan to continue bombing Iraq and Syria areas held by the self-proclaimed Islamic State. We speak with French journalist Nicolas Hénin, who was held hostage by ISIS inside Syria for 10 months, spending much of the time locked up in a dungeon. He was held alongside U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, who were later beheaded. Their deaths were videotaped and aired across the world. While he was held hostage, Hénin also briefly met American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who also died in captivity, possibly from a U.S.-led coalition airstrike. Hénin, who was released in April 2014 along with three other French journalists, makes an impassioned plea against bombing Syria. "All these bombings have a terrible effect," says Hénin. "We are pushing the Syrian people into the hands of ISIS."
The U.N. climate summit has come under scrutiny for its unprecedented level of corporate sponsorship—more than 50 companies, with some of them counted by climate activists as being among the world’s worst industrial polluters. On Friday, climate activists gathered at the Grand Palais in Paris protesting the COP21 "Solutions" exhibition, where businesses were pushing for corporate and privatized responses to climate change. Several protesters were evicted from the premises by the large security presence at the event.
Negotiators from 195 countries at the United Nations climate summit have approved draft text for what they hope will form an accord to curb global carbon emissions by the end of this week. Among the issues still under discussion is whether the deal will mention indigenous rights. On Sunday, indigenous people from around the world took to the waters here in Paris to defend their rights and the environment. "We’re very, very concerned about the fact that reference to indigenous rights and human rights have been moved into an annex in the Paris text," Cree activist Clayton Thomas-Muller says. "It means that they’ve been put aside to be discussed after the weekend."
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Despite restrictions on protests following the November 13 attacks that killed 130 people, activists attempted to stage a mass sit-in at the Grand Palais in Paris today to protest corporate sponsors pushing for so-called "solutions" to climate change that include genetically modified foods, privatized water and biofuels. We get an update from Pascoe Sabido of the Corporate Europe Observatory.
Africa has been praised here in Paris for leading the way on renewable energy, with the African Development Bank announcing this week it would spend $12 billion on energy projects over the next five years. But as Africa forges ahead, will it leave behind women, who often bear the brunt of impacts from climate change? Across the continent, African women are creating their own solutions. We’re joined by climate justice activists from both sides of the African continent. Priscilla Achakpa is a delegate from Nigeria and is with the Women’s Caucus and the Women and Gender Constituency here at the U.N. Climate Summit. She is the Executive Director of the Women Environmental Programme in Nigeria. Edna Kaptoyo is with the Kenya-based Indigenous Information Network. She is a member of the Indigenous People’s Caucus and the Women and Gender Constituency here at the U.N. Climate Summit.
In 1988, James Hansen first warned about the dangers of climate change when he testified before Congress. At the time he was NASA’s top climate scientist. He would go on to become the nation’s most influential climate scientist. This year he is making his first appearance at a U.N. climate change summit. He has come to Paris to warn world leaders that they are on the wrong track to prevent dangerous global warming.