An invitation to imagine fractals of decentralised disobedient assemblies during
COP26, 9-20th November, in Glasgow and Globally.
Article published on 8 March 2020
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Notes to the reader: This proposal is written by some climate justice veterans from various struggles across Europe and experiences with grass roots mobilisations at the COPs, it is intended as an invitation to imagine and discuss direct actions during COP26.

The first part is based on the real program of the Scotish Events Campus in Glasgow, Scotland, where the COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference is due to take place between November 9th – 20th 2020. Parts of the proposal might work if due to coronovirus the COP26 was cancelled. 
Possible future I : Show business as usual !

"Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air" 
The witches, William Shakespeare, Macbeth, 1.1.12 

“You fooled all the people with magic”
Ozzy Osbourne, “Mr Crowley”, Blizzard of Ozz, Jet records, 1980

It’s the 25th of October 2020, we are in a cavernous silver UFO shaped building, on Scottish Event Campus (SEC) on the edge of the river Clyde, on land reclaimed from docks in central Glasgow. Inside is a stage, and on it, dwarfed by a glittering set, under a gigantic glowing white cross, iconic heavy metal legend Ozzy Osborne, infamous for biting the head off living bats, claws his way through his set. The screens fill up with giant full moons and Ozzy screams his ’Bark at the moon’, which smoothly transitions into black magic anthem: ’Mr Crowley’. Despite his newly diagnosed parkinsons disease, even at 70 years old his rocking still has a lot of rolling in it. An this is his second farewell tour, called aptly ”No More Tour: 2” with the strap line “celebrating five decades of the prince of darkness, live ! “ The crowd roars, he sprays them with a foam from a fire hose, the guitars riff and the show ends with an explosion of glitter. 

“... those global leaders were driven by a primitive fear that the present ambient warm weather is somehow caused by humanity; and that fear – as far as I understand the science – is equally without foundation. There may be all kinds of reasons why I was sweating at ping-pong [in December] – but they don’t include global warming.”

Boris Johnson, “I can’t stand this December heat, but it has nothing to do with global warming,” The Telegraph, December 20, 2015. 

Same stage, same building, a little over a fortnight later, 19th of November. A kind of different show this time without the dry ice and loud guitars - but staring one of the worlds new breeds of killer clowns: Boris Johnson ! He bathes in a column of bright green light in front of a colossal union jack, he is giving the thumbs up and grinning hysterically. He has just announced to the world that UKplc is going to save us all from the climate apocalypse. He splutters his mantra into the microphone: “Im proud we got Brexit done and now we are getting net zero done, lets get to work ! Together we can protect our climate and our borders !” The crowd give him a standing ovation. Amongst them is a record number of heads of state - nearly 200 presidents, princes, extreme nationalist prime ministers, military dictators, oligarchs, you name it, the rich and powerful are all there and of course they are nearly all men.

The UN climate conference, COP26, has just opened, 30,000 delegates are ready for the marathon. The tens of thousands of business lobbyists, from oil and gas, finance and banking, mining and manufacturing are primed to do their persuasion, the game in town is no longer climate denial but rebranding themselves as ethical companies committed to the new green industrial revolution, extractivist business as usual. Outside hundreds of thousands of climate activists reach the finishing line of their protest march and put their placards away politely.

Inside the SEC, it is show businesses as usual, everyone continues to pretend that the toxic blend of markets and governments that have failed to reduce emission for over a quarter a century will somehow turn things around this time ! The talk is all about ’Net’ Zero, not zero emissions. Delegates play apocalyptic games of arithmetic, trying to fool the world with the illusion of offsetting. The winter sun sets over the Clyde, they argue late into the night over numbers, who can sell and buy carbon and the placing of semi-colons. The summit ends with the bang of a wooden gavel, and a tweet from Boris Johnson “ Climate, at last, we got it done.” The greatest greenwashing show in history just condemned life to death. 

Its the 24th of November, five days after the delegates have flown home, the stage welcomes a new showman, this time it’s Elton John: alcoholic, cocaine and sex addict, bulimic, shopaholic and proud owner of a private jet, he too is on his last tour: Fairwell Yellow brick road . The final act involves a glass lift that slowly takes him up high above the crowd, disappearing into the giant video backdrop of a starry sky. On the screen he walks down road made of glittering gold ingots and disappears into a huge fiery sun. The show is over.

Possible future ii: Circles of life  

“Whatever our world leaders are ’doing’ to reduce emissions,
they are doing it wrong."
Greta Thunberg, speaking at COP24, Katowice, 2018

 "We were carrying on a strike when we ought
to have been making a revolution"
Willie Gallacher, activist speaking after the George Square uprising, Glasgow 1919

“Blockades are both a negation of destruction
and an affirmation of life. “
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Michi Saagiig Nishnaabe indigenous writer and musician. 

Perhaps there is another vision of the last months of 2020. This time it doesn’t take place just in Glasgow, but across the globe, this time everyone is a constellation of stars playing in a headline making show. This time the bang of the gavel condemns climate crimes destroying our territories to clear the way for life to flourish. 

For months leading up to the COP26, local groups and front line communities have come together to prepare for the day of action. Red circles have been scrawled on town halls in villages, towns and cities around the world. Red is the colour of love and rage, desire and action, and these are circles of life, circles of meeting and gathering together for justice, circles of protection.

During the Paris talks the Climate Justice movement drew red lines as a sign of rebellion, red lines “for the minimum necessities for a just and liveable planet.” Over 150 organisations, from the most mainstream big NGO’s to radical indignous networks, signed the Red Lines pledge to encircle the Paris summit if it crossed the minimum necessities. We will “block them from leaving the summit to apply this aberration to our communities. “ said the pledge “You will have to walk over the very bodies of the people you claim to represent if you wish to carry out this death sentence for the poor and the planet.” It was a powerful plan and may well have seen thousands taking civil disobedience, many for the first time. But it put the french state in a huge dilemma situation – too much police repression and the story telling that describes the COP as a smooth consensual process between citizens, business and goverments, of us all being in the same boat, would sink. No repression would risk the action working and blocking the delegates into the conference hall, which would have been a diplomatic disaster for the French hosts. Naomi Klein wrote that the “the red lines plan is brilliant...I think it strikes just the right balance between ’shut it down’ and ’do your job’. I also think that it is strong enough to grab the narrative, something a big march cannot be counted on to do.” Since Paris the red lines symbol has appeared around the globe, from indigenous struggles against pipelines to Welsh blockades of open cast coal mines. 

Tragically, 3 weeks before the summit began, coordinated terror attacks hit Paris, killing 130 people in the bars and cafes, including 90 Death Metal fans during a concert at the Bataclan. The French state immediately announced a State of Emergency, activists were put under house arrest, any public gathering of more than 3 people banned. The NGOs started pulling out of the Red Lines action and the blockade was cancelled. In the end, D12 the day of action, was a symbolic red line of 10,000 people stretched up a boulevard, very little was disrupted, and inside the summit show business continued as usual. 

We all have known for a long time that the COP is not doing its job, and that its up to the movements to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, block the extractivist economy and resist the tsunami of false solutions. Perhaps 2020 is finally the year to delegitimize this charade, perhaps Glasgow’s COP26 must be the farewell show of its 26 year long disaster tour, a spectacular goodbye that leaves space for something new: the launch of a global fractal of peoples’ assemblies. The red lines have been crossed so many times that now they have morphed into something more powerful, like a snake eating its tail, the line has becomes a circle, a red circle of life of protection. A circle that says YES: we will gather together meet and find real solutions and NO: we will block you inside because you have failed the global communities, you will not return to our territories to continue the destruction; now the COP must give way to the people. 
On the day of action, during the final UN assembly on Saturday 20th November N20, people occupy their town halls in villages, towns and cities across the world. Meanwhile in Glasgow three circles are formed. One is a giant peoples assembly of the climate justice movement, who will see the live streaming of the local tribunals. The second ring surrounds the summit buildings ready to block the delegates in on the signal, whilst a third surrounds the airport, just in case the first ring does not succeed and delegations have managed to leave.

In the town halls, a circle of adults forms the protection surrounding the municipal buildings whilst inside an inner circle of youth, under 26 years old (born during the COP process), create a circle of justice, a tribunal that begins by putting the COP on trial for failing to protect life, the verdict is sent to the assembly in Glasgow. If the verdicts are guilty, the Glasgow assembly announces the start of the blockades with the bang of a gavel. They give deserting delegates 20 minutes to leave the summit and join the Peoples Assembly, especially inviting the scientists from the IPCC that are present, to desert too. The last time this was tried with a climate justice assembly in the streets just outside the summit building during the COP15 in Copenhagen, riot police beat back the UN delegates that wanted to leave the summit and join the peoples assembly ! 

As the blockades are put into place in the town halls the youth tribunals begin their second case, to judge local climate wrecking infrastructure plans. From new pipelines to motorways, supermarkets to airports, fracking sites to coal fired power stations any local infrastructure project that does not honor the national commitment to tackle climate change under the Paris Agreements to seek to limit global temperature rise to no more than 1.5C, will be judged an ecoside. (The UK’s recent ruling declaring Heahtrows 3rd Runway illegal is an interesting precedent that could have global ramifications). The tribunal will end with the bang of a wooden gavel and a pledge to take the climate crimes to national level courts and take direct action against it if it is not cancelled. 

In Glasgow the movement assembly begins to lay the basis for the peoples process that will replace the procrastinating COP with an action based agenda.The assembly lasts late into the night and into the weekend. Outside the blockades are holding. The Glasgow Peoples Agreement is drawn up and signed by social movements and all the fractals of youth assemblies that have been taking place.The gavel falls again, the blockades are lifted, the winter sun sets over the Clyde and the circles of life make headlines across the world. A tweet from by2020 we riseup goes viral “Offset this Boris!!”.

Its the 24th of November, five days after this historic moment, Elton John is ending his concert with his catchy mournful ballad:

 “When are you gonna come down? When are you going to land? 
Should have stayed on the farm and listened to my old man...
So goodbye yellow brick road, 

Where the dogs of society howl

You can’t plant me in your penthouse

I’m going back to my plough
Back to the howling old owl in the woods

Hunting the horny back toad

Oh I’ve finally decided my future lies

Beyond the yellow brick road...”

Final Notes:

There is not much time to organise, but the momentum of the movement is so much greater than it was during the last “key” COP in Paris 2015, in fact it seems we have reached a watershed moment and should ride this wave. In Madrid last year, the mobilisations that organised at the last minute as the Chile COP 25 was cancelled due to the popular uprising, managed to gather half a million people to march. If 10% of these agree to take part in civil disobedience in Glasgow, then 50,000 people could easily achieve this plan. It would be a nightmare for the police, who are already saying that the summit will stretch their resources and there are already arguments between the Scottish and English police forces about funding. The whole Scottish independence movement momentum is bound to play a role during the COP, and there have even been rumors the Johnson’s government want to move it to London ! Maybe we will have to have a last minute move in the mobilisation again ? 

BELOW is the original red lines proposal for Paris 2015 to add some nostalgia and context !!

A GLOBAL BLOCKADIA proposal for the D12 day of action, at the end of the Paris COP21 summit.
Note to reader: This is simply a document for discussion to begin a debate amongst climate justice movements which will hopefully lead to a powerful, effective and memorable act of disobedience during the D12 (Saturday December 12th ) day of action which has been called by global movements converging in Paris on the last days of the COP21 UN climate summit. A decision has already been made to have up to 5 different actions/targets on the day (organised autonomously by different groups or networks) as well as a moment of convergence of everyone, either at the start or the end of the day. This proposed action could form the convergence moment at the start or be one of the separate actions. We realise that there will be concerns and lots of considerations to take into account, but we need a step-change in peoples’ response to UN climate talks... See Appendix C for where this document comes from. 
We have had 20 years of international talks to avoid dangerous climate change. All the scientific evidence points to catastrophic climate change, so many words have been spilled in negotiations and yet emissions have increased by over 60%. We all know that most fossil carbon can never be burnt. But something has gone seriously wrong. 
Everyone plays their roles: delegates argue over draft text; big NGO’s cheer them on to ‘seal the deal; grassroots activists try to unmask corporate lobbyists and take symbolic actions. But none of this matches the task of ending fossil fuel use and avoiding disaster. We all know that the process is broken and that the corporate dominated talks will never produce an agreement that deals with the underlying causes of the climate catastrophe. Yet we also know that we cannot just ignore this moment where Paris becomes a stage to play out the struggle of life against business as usual. 
Thousands of people are estimated to take part in D12, the December 12th mass action during the last moments of the COP. Following the success of Ende Gelände, the open cast coal mine shut down in August, D12 could well be the world’s biggest act of disobedience for climate justice. The inevitable bad agreement will be a death sentence for the poor and the planet and a blessing for corporations, but world leaders will have no problem pretending that it is a success and the ’best’ they could do. We cannot let such a deal pass unchallenged. The call for D12 is that “We (the movements) will have the last word” but the actions which accompany ’the last word’ cannot simply become a footnote to the main story. 
“PARIS AGREEMENT SIGNED – PLANET SAVED ! :” could well be the headlines on the last weekend of the talks, with a little paragraph – “activists were unhappy with the deal and had a protest - there were some arrests.” The rising climate justice movements must be more than a footnote. It’s time for a bold move and for us to all step out of our comfort zones. We need a move that marks COP21 as the moment where the Climate Justice Movements could no longer be ignored. A move that draws a line in the sand and says the corporations and governments have failed us, it’s time to take things into our own hands... 
Here is the plan
The idea is that five red lines, MINIMAL NECESSITIES FOR A LIVEABLE PLANET rooted in scientific evidence, equity and justice, are drawn up by the global social movements and brought to light via the choreography and visuals of the mass marches of the 28th/29th of November, the eve of the COP21 opening. Two weeks later, when the deal inevitably crosses these red lines, people encircle the summit and in a show of collective power and shaming, refuse to let the delegates return home to carry out the criminal agreement in their communities. 
The red lines could include 1) EMISSIONS: Drastic immediate cuts in CO2 emissions and ending fossil fuel emissions by 2050 2) EQUITY: Recognition of historical responsibility of rich countries and transfer of rights to emit from rich to poor countries on a per capita basis 3) FINANCE: Rich countries pay poor countries to complete a clean energy transition, adaptation, resilient agriculture etc. immediately 4) JUSTICE: Compensation to impacted communities for the loss and damages inflicted by past fossil fuel emissions and workers livelihoods secured through mechanisms for a Just Transition to a post fossil fuel world. 5) COMPLIANCE: Monitoring and penalties for non- compliance of agreements, including penalties to force the elite to deliver on promises. 
IMAGINE: When the summit inevitably crosses these red lines, and just as the final UN plenary begins - civil defence sirens, church bells, synagogues, and minarets blast across Paris. This is a sign for the start of the action, people begin encircling the summit. 
Three circles are made. On the inside of the Le Bourget conference centre, hundreds of civil society NGOs, scientists and defecting delegates link arms and refuse to let the delegations leave. On the outside, a middle ring of people surround the conference centre, their backs turned towards it. Some have come with wind turbines, solar panels, bikes and mobile gardens, others are setting up tents “Occupy” style, hundreds of chairs re-appropriated from banks funding climate crimes form an alternative assembly, farmers have driven tractors into place together with the frontline communities from la ZAD to the Pacific islands, everyone is calm and determined but refuses to be moved. If country representatives want to leave Le Bourget, then it will be by walking over the bodies of the very people they claim to represent. 
Transport hubs and other roads that would enable delegates to leave Paris are also being blocked by smaller affinity groups. 
Finally an outer ring of tens of thousands, unable to come to Paris, take solidarity Blockadia actions in their own territories. The ’redlines’ meme appears everywhere, drawn across train tracks carrying coal, stretched across the entrances of institutions that refused to divest, marking the fields were fracking rigs are planned, and red lines spray-painted on government building and fossil fuel company offices. 
The mass act of legitimate disobedience fills the front pages and the airwaves, the social media sphere buzzes, washing away the world governments greenwash with images of creative resistance, no one believes that a bad deal is a good deal anymore, everyone sees it for what it is - the ultimate false solution. Plans for a mass shut down of ’carbon bombs’ across the world in the spring of 2016 are announced as the blockades are lifted. Rather than a Copenhagen hangover, we return from Paris filled with confidence and a much clearer path emerges towards climate justice in the months and years ahead. 
This may seem utopian to some, but now is not the time for realistic plans, but ones that make us dream of what is possible. Ende Gelände drew a line in the sand (Here and no further), in Paris that line turns red - the corporations and governments have failed us, its time to take things into our own hands. 
For more info:

Appendices A: Earth’s RED LINES criteria / B: FAQ / C: Who wrote this ? 
We suggest five criteria on emissions, equity, finance, justice and compliance that must be incorporated into any Paris agreement, for a deal rooted in scientific evidence, justice and equity. These are based on the most radical parts of the current Draft negotiating text ( , the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice, which includes many social movements and NGOs, , and the Peoples’ Test on Climate, 
Overall, the Earth’s red lines are not a blueprint for the future, but are the necessities that could ’theoretically’ be agreed at COP21, but are very unlikely to be agreed. Whatever the outcome of COP21, it will be the framework that local struggles fight within. Let’s make that terrain as favourable as possible! 
► EMISSIONS: Catalyse immediate, urgent and drastic emissions reductions. Specifically, a peak in global carbon emissions by 2020, rapidly declining to ending fossil fuel use and full decarbonisation (zero emissions) by 2050 at the latest, and reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere after 2050. 
This is in the current draft text in various options: This is consistent with a mid-range probability (50%) of limiting warming by the end of the century to 1.5 deg C above pre-industrial. It is also consistent with a low probability of exceeding 2.0 deg C warming (as it is uncertain exactly how the planet will respond to fossil fuel emissions). This clearly indicates ending fossil fuel use and avoids those who want no action attempting to split movements and countries into 1.5 and 2 deg C groups of countries. A focus on fossil fuel emissions and not temperature avoid loopholes for countries to claim they will overshoot temperature targets and scale back emissions later this century. Zero means zero total emissions, but some unavoidable emissions, such as methane from rice agriculture, would need to be balanced by, for example, more agro-ecological farming and community-led forest restoration, not techno-fixes. 
See Rogelj et al. 2015 Nature Climate Change for details on some fossil fuel use reduction trajectories that limit warming to 1.5 deg C by 2100. 
► EQUITY. Ensure peoples’ rights to food, water, land and the atmosphere. Specifically, emissions must move to converge to equal per capita amounts as global emission decline, followed by a transfer of available emis- sions from industrialised to non-industrialised countries to reflect historical responsibility for the climate change problem and differing national circumstances. Within countries equitable access to food, water, land and the atmosphere is also needed. This means low-emitting income-poor countries can increase emissions while in- come-rich countries must decline further and faster. 
► FINANCE: Provide adequate support for transformation. Specifically, income-rich countries (Annex 1) must pay for the transition to clean energy and to adapt to climate change, including climate-resilient agriculture, with climate finance exceeding USD100 billion per year, immediately. Income-poor groups need to leap-frog the fossil fuel age. This should be funded by those with historical responsibility for emissions, including funds, technology transfer and capacity-building. Funding commitments are in the negotiating text, but are vague. 
► JUSTICE. Deliver justice to impacted people. Specifically, communities must be compensated for the loss and damage inflicted by past fossil fuel emissions that go beyond what can be adapted to, via a clear mechanism. Workers’ livelihoods must be secured through a Just Transition to a post-fossil fuel world. Past emissions are causing climate impacts and must be paid for. Loss and damage clauses are in the current negotiating text, but are vague and threatened with being cut. 
► COMPLIANCE: Force elites to deliver on its promises. Specifically, all agreements need enforcement; clear, transparent and publicly available monitoring of agreed action and penalties for not-complying with commitments must be included in any Paris agreement. Any agreement needs to avoid free-riders who do no deliver emissions reductions, finance or compensation. Without penalties countries will agree and not deliver, as Canada, Australia and others did under the Kyoto protocol. There are no sanctions noted in the current draft text. 
Appendix B. FAQs 
Q. Aren’t you disrupting incredibly important talks? 
A. No. Negotiators can still talk; we will only be preventing them from leaving, not from discussing or coming to an agreement. 
Q. Doesn’t the action place too much emphasis on the talks (a.k.a. Copenhagen syndrome)? 
A. We don’t agree. We are not cheering negotiators on. This is a more critical engagement than ignoring the talks, and more specific than asking vaguely to ‘save the climate’. This is no Copenhagen moment of falsely raised hope in a flawed process, but a moment of reflection on the reality of what is required and how far the worlds governments are from it. At least social movements can state the parameters of what’s needed. After the talks, whatever is decided, we’re all going to have to work together to avoid those red lines being crossed. By clearly stating what is required, and using the action to bring together social movements, we are preparing for action post-COP21. 

Q. How will the final list of necessities (Earth’s red lines) be decided? 
A. For the initial inputs we have focused on a few common directional demands already agreed across a broad spectrum of social movements, NGOs and groups worded in ways to be relevant to talks and to bind people together. Final wording would come from those who are most impacted by climate change, and those likely to join the blockade in December. Some groups in their blockades and actions, would probably want to emphasis different aspects of the necessities which most resonate with their communities. 
Q. Is there capacity to organise such a mobilisation ? 
Some groups leading the discussions and working groups around D12, such as estimate that 10,000 people could come for the actions, if well-trained and coordinated we think this would be enough to make this plan work. The success of Ende Gelände the German coal mine shut down in August shows that there is a rising cross border movement prepared to take determined disciplined disobedience. We think the clear narrative of the Red lines gives further legitimacy to the movements. Civil Disobedience trainings would be required and are being planned already. Given the decentralised nature of the blockades there could be a diversity of tactics that enables people with different experience and risk levels to take part. The Climate Games round 2 app will be available during D12 which will enable a live cartography of the city showing where blockades are successful, police and delegation movements. 

Q. Won’t any action in or near La Bourget bring a heavy police response? 
 A. That’s certainly possible. Effective action will often lead to such a response. The head of security for the summit is rumoured to have said that he would rather our movements target corporate targets on D12 than the Bourget. If we’re successful, we will be blocking the negotiators inside Le Bourget and the French state will have to decide what to do. French police are renowned for violent repression, last year a young ecological activists was killed by a concussion grenade. It’s certain that the French State will not want a repeat of this and the risk of diplomatic incident that ruins their party. However the French Public order strategies are not used to non-violent direct actions and civil disobedience, this will make it difficult to police using their normal crowd control techniques. But the action is out in the open, there will be an ’action consensus’ that agrees to avoid escalation and with the world’s media watching any police violence will mar the talks thus putting the French state into classic dilemma position. 
Q. What about the threat of a violence ? 

A. We hope to work with an ’Action Concensus’. This is a document that is co-written by all the actors/organisations taking part in an act of disobedience which outlines the modes of action that are planned to take place and which have to be agreed upon by participants. We think one is needed which enables mass participation from a diversity of people, calls for determined disciplined disobedience, no property destruction and rules out tactics which provoke escalation by police. Police violence cannot be ruled out of course. 
Q. If COP21 organisers hear about the inside blockade, won’t they try to stop anyone who plans to participate in it, or exclude them from certain areas?
A. That’s certainly possible. However, over the past 20 years a number of large actions have happened inside COP venues without repercussions (some of us have organised a few!). On the other hand, a few people have had their badges removed due to suspicions that they are organising or participating in a protest inside the conference centre. Security is an important consideration. 

 Our political background is that we’ve been involved various climate justice campaigns, working in NGO and social movements. We have taken part in direct action both inside and outside the COP, mostly as part of social movements, but we have also worked alongside NGOs from the Global South and North as well and some Global South country governments. Over the last few weeks REDLINES idea has been discussed and developed by groups and individuals in various meetings and networks, including, Climate Justice Action, The Bure anti-nuclear camp and Rhineland Climate Camp. We thought the idea should be fleshed-out to facilitate a clearer discussion and decide whether there is sufficient enthusiasm to organise this. It will take a range of groups and individuals to make this proposal happen. If the proposal goes ahead, we would be part of that process.

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