As the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) or COP15 kicked off on Wednesday at Montreal’s Palais de Congrès, protesters marched at Saint-Jacques Street carrying a banner that read “Bloquons la COP15” or block COP15.
The protesters make up a coalition of anti-capitalist and ecological activists who believe that COP15 is a waste of time and resources and question whether these events actually address biodiversity and climate change issues, or are just lip service.
“We find it hilarious how these people have to protect themselves with weapons and barricades to make decisions that they say are good for biodiversity. They’re spending so much money that could be invested in actual solutions,” Édouard, a student organizer with the anti-capitalist and ecologist coalition against COP15 told the Guardian earlier in the week.
COP15 aims to set 22 targets to reverse biodiversity loss — to determine the “fate of the entire living world,” as scientists put it — to ensure the security of the life-support systems that humanity depends on, and how activities towards these targets would be paid for. According to a 2019 assessment, there is a funding gap of at least $711 billion per year.
“When you look at all the promises over the last 30 years, nothing has happened. Actually, worse than nothing. This event is just to make leaders look good. So that’s why we’re in the streets,” said another organizer.
The summit is expected to bring in more protests over the next two weeks. Over a hundred groups have come together to form the COP15 Collective, which has organized about 60 events around the summit in Montreal. The big event is the “great march for the living” on December 10. Organizers are expecting thousands of participants.
Police in Montreal considers providing security for COP15 as their biggest operation in two decades. The event, which runs from December 7 to 19, will need around-the-clock security. Sections of the city, particularly around Palais de congrès, have been cordoned off. Place-d’Armes metro station will be closed until December 20.
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