This morning, the United Nations expects 130 countries, a record number of signatories, to meet in New York to sign the Paris climate agreement. It’s an exciting day for governments that spent years preparing for this moment. But for environmentalists, it is evidence of the endurance of a schism that the agreement and surrounding events were in part meant to heal.
Groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council and U.S. Climate Action Network will meet at UN headquarters later this morning to celebrate the signing of the agreement with a press conference. Outside the UN walls, though, other groups are hosting a theatrical die-in.
The group that organized the action, the Climate Mobilization, advocates for a “WWII-scale, full employment mobilization to restore a safe and stable climate.” In contrast, Greenpeace International executive director Jennifer Morgan said, “Paris created momentum for change.” The Sierra Club claimed the day will be “a turning point for humanity.” But the Climate Mobilization insists “the agreement may very well lead to the collapse of civilization and the natural world.” Food & Water Watch called the treaty “largely symbolic and wholly toothless.”
Before the Paris summit, environmentalists united under the motto “to change everything, we need everyone.” Several months later, the movement’s historic divisions might be back.