When the World Hurts

Reflections from Emilia Belliveau, BCCIC Youth Delegate to COP21

I don’t have much experience writing about tragedy – and terrorism was never something I expected to blog about. Yet, with my arrival in Paris just ten days away, I didn’t feel like I could write about anything else until I recognized the impact of the November 13th attacks.

My heart breaks for France, and all the places in the world where humanity bleeds. In addition to taking the lives of more than 120 people and shaking the lives of many more, last Friday has undoubtedly altered the dynamic of COP21. I watched the events unfold in shock, extinguishing my excitement and genuine feeling of hope about the upcoming conference. For the first time ever I truly considered the creeping fear of an unseen threat to my public safety. I am privileged. This is the same fear that haunts many people elsewhere in the world as they interact in public space – the same fear that turns citizens into refugees. There is so much more to say and feel about these issues, but in this space I’m going to discuss the ramifications for my plans at COP21.


My intended plans remain unchanged. I’ll be arriving in Paris on November 28th and participating as much as possible in the conference.

The French government will have increased security at the UNFCCC. As a holder of ‘NGO status’ my access to conference grounds and role as an observer are largely unchanged.

The French government has cancelled mass mobilizations and protests in public spaces for security purposes. Environmental groups responsible for organizing these events have accepted the restrictions, but many have responded with resolve about the importance of continued collective action for environmental justice and solidarity, especially at this time when love and hope are deeply needed. I am disappointed because the relationship dynamics revealed in activism, as a form of interaction between civil society and political bodies (in this case delegates and state representatives) or industry elites (namely the fossil fuel lobby), are what I find most interesting to observe. I hope environmental organizations still find creative ways to make their presence felt.

Tension and pressure may be high during this year’s negotiation, but I do believe the climate justice movement will play a role not only in pushing for ambitious and binding emissions reduction targets, but also in bringing joy, hope, and peace into mourning hearts.


About Emilia Belliveau

Emilia Belliveau is master’s student at the University of Victoria in the School of Environmental Studies and an individual member of BCCIC. In December 2015, she will be travelling to Paris, France to take part in the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework for the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations. BCCIC as an organization holds observer status to this conference and will be sending Emilia as well as a BCCIC staff member to the negotiations.

Through the COP21 lead up, and during the conference itself, Emilia will be making regular blogposts which will be available both here at bccic.ca as well as on her personal blog space : https://emibelliveau.wordpress.com/

In her own words, Emilia introduces herself below:

Thank you for taking an interest in climate change and international negotiations.

If we have yet to have the pleasure of meeting, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Emilia Belliveau and I’m currently a master’s student at the University of Victoria in the School of Environmental Studies. I’m interested in social justice, feminism, environmentalism, and politics – so I make an all around great party guest! I recently moved to the west coast from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and am enjoying getting to know this side of the continent.

I’ll be using this platform to share my experiences as I attend the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework for the Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Paris. I have been nominated by the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC) as an ‘observer’ delegate, which simply means I’ll be let in to watch the action unfold. This blog will report on both negotiation developments and my personal observations about the conference. I’m grateful for the nomination of BCCIC that has granted me access to this flashpoint in political ecology. It’s important to clarify that the views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the position of BCCIC or its affiliates.

If curiosity has brought you here – please check in often! I’ll be posting in the lead up to COP21 more about these negotiations (including background info, definitions and resources), their role in addressing climate change, the importance of a ‘treaty year’, the work of BCCIC, and other groups shedding light on Canada’s international action.

I’ll also be sharing the full story of my journey to COP21 and why attending these negotiations is so important to me.

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