2015: Year Zero for Climate Justice

John Foran
Climate Justice Press, an Imprint of Punctum Books
Expected Summer 2019

This book is a personal chronicle of the efforts of the movement for global climate justice to ensure that the UN climate agreement signed in Paris in late 2015 would be fair, ambitious, and binding. In the end, it was none of the above, despite the creative efforts of so many people. The book is for anyone who wants to see those dramatic events through the eyes of one scholar-activist who went in search of climate justice, and the amazing things he saw and heard along the way. It is a story that will be continued.

From the Introduction:

This book contains nearly everything I wrote in 2015 about climate change. 2015 was, I think, “year zero” for climate justice because we knew from the start that the world would descend on Paris for the UN climate summit, COP 21, and that, one way or another, history would be made.
And as the year’s discussions developed, I soon came to feel that the best possible outcome of COP 21 would be NO agreement. Instead, we got the “Paris Agreement,” which calls on the world to keep global warming “well under 2 degrees, and as close to 1.5 degrees as possible.” Like the rest of the high-minded words in this non-binding agreement, it is merely “voluntary” and “aspirational,” and at the rate these negotiations have been going for two decades, it will take at least the next ten COPs for them to get any traction.

We can’t let them delay that long, or the window for even a dangerous two degrees will close. To hold the line on climate change, we would need something akin to a radical climate moonshot, an ecosocialist World War II-type war effort, a great transformation of everything that is so wrong about the world we live in. Everything.

As for the global climate justice movement, might it prove to be the most radical social movement of the twenty-first century? It could if we make it so. We need to show up on all the frontlines, from the local to the global, and engage with everything, from short-range defensive action against every fossil fuel project and electoral ploy, to medium-range reforms, to long-range radical (anti- or post- capitalist?) system change.