December 10, 2015

Mark Schlosberg, Food & Water Watch

While debate continues around many details of the climate agreements in Paris, fracking has been virtually ignored, along with the impact of fracked gas and oil on the climate. Research shows that fracking is the elephant in the room: We must leave the vast majority of fossil fuels in the ground to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and fracking is increasingly the mechanism for extracting large amounts of these fuels. But the issue has gotten short shrift until yesterday when the Ban Fracking movement hit COP21.

The day kicked off with a panel inside the main building where the official conference is being held, followed by one outside in the area designated for the public. Food & Water Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, Sisters of Mercy and other partners hosted these panels, which were unusually well attended. Typically attendance is low at such panels, but these were packed with over a hundred people each who came hear Wenonah Hauter, Kassie Siegel, Bill McKibben, Sandra Steingraber, John Fenton, Netherlands MP Liesbeth van Tongeren and Joaquin Turco (Argentina) talk about the impacts of fracking, the movement for a ban and the need to take strong action to ban fracking if we want to really take on climate change seriously.

Following the panels, we joined Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) for a permitted demonstration outside the main building. The theme, “Climate Leaders Don’t Frack,” focused special attention on Governor Jerry Brown who was leaving Paris yesterday. This demonstration was conducted under a very restrictive permit that allowed no more than 50 people to gather for the demonstration, and forbade signs featuring pictures of elected leaders. CBD, which did the legwork to obtain the permit, comically put blue tape over Gov. Brown’s face on some of their signs.

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Despite attempts to limit the size of this protest, the anti-fracking movement would not tolerate being ignored any longer. Over 150 people came out to hear powerful speakers from frontline communities including North Dakota, Pennsylvania and California. We brought large banners and smaller signs, some from the United States and others from around the world. And we brought the message clearly and loudly – while surrounded by police – that Gov. Brown and other elected officials cannot claim to be leaders in the fight against climate change while they promote fracking – we need to keep it all in the ground.

Today we are participating in a conference with 150 members of the global anti-fracking movement. It will be a great opportunity for Food & Water Watch to learn from fights across the world and build on the connections we have made over the past several years through Global Frackdown and our work in Europe and Latin America.

See all the pictures from Paris here.

Gov. Jerry Brown Gets #BanFracking Sendoff at COP21