Amid the light-hearted fanfare generated by environmental activists in the French capital, however, the climate summit has also been notable for a hardening of tone against perceived climate-change deniers — several of whom have been subject to highly personalised campaigns.
Fiona Wild, a representative of the mining group BHP Billiton at the talks, flew back to Australia on Thursday after becoming the focus of an aggressive campaign against individuals in Paris accused of trying to water down the final climate agreement.
Ms Wild and several others had their faces plastered on more than 1,000 large “wanted” posters, which were put up around luxury hotels in Paris. The targets were accused of being “climate criminals” trying to “keep fossil fuels at the centre of human development”.
A spokesperson for BHP Billiton said Ms Wild flew back to Australia before the end of the summit “following a very concerning campaign by French activists . . . which incorrectly claimed BHP Billiton [and Ms Wild] were climate-change deniers”.
One person close to Ms Wild said she had also been warned that more personal attacks against her were to come. The BHP Billiton spokesperson called the campaign “highly personalised and unfair”.
The crusade reflected the generally hostile attitude to climate sceptics in Paris, with senior policy figures making clear that this time they were not welcome and their point of view was no longer valid.
Others on the “wanted” list included Benjamin Sporton, head of the World Coal Association; Marc Morano, who runs the climate sceptic website ClimateDepot.com; Myron Ebell, director of the US think-tank Competitive Enterprise Institute; Bjorn Lomborg, Danish author of The Skeptical Environmentalist; and James Taylor, senior fellow at the Heartland Institute, another US libertarian think-tank.
Some were more relaxed than others about being branded “criminals”.