5 Ways the COP21 Deal Dooms the Planet to Climate Change Chaos

Source:  TeleSUR
14 December 2015

state of climate emergency.jpgRepresentatives of Indigenous communities protest and demand respect for Indigenous rights at COP21 in Paris on Dec. 12, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

The COP21 deal has been celebrated as a binding agreement, but what exactly countries are bound to is a telling sign of how far short the deal falls.

Global leaders are celebrating the outcome of the COP21 Paris climate talks as a “historic” deal and a “monumental triumph” for the climate.

But as environmental organizations and activists slam the agreement for doing too little too late and dooming the world to climate chaos, here are five things you should know about the COP21 climate deal.

  1. It puts the world on track for 3 degrees Celsius global warming.

The COP21 text states that the purpose of the climate deal is to keep global warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius while aiming for 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but the agreement lacks the mechanisms to make this goal a reality.

Instead, the deal puts the world on track to far overshoot these targets and hit 3 degrees Celsius warming. Global emissions reductions are achieved through voluntary, intended national pledges. These pledges mean the biggest climate culprits that carry the historical burden of climate change can voluntarily contribute emissions reductions that they think they can achieve, not what is globally necessary.

Scientists say that 2 degrees Celsius warming is the maximum limit the world can hit before facing catastrophic and irreparable planetary damage that could bring an end to human life as we know it. Many Latin American countries and front-line affected communities, already feeling the impacts of climate change, have pushed for the more ambitious 1.5 degrees Celsius limit, which climate scientists agree is the appropriate target to protect the most vulnerable.

But so far, global leader have not risen to the high-stakes challenge.

  1. It has no legal commitment to climate reparations.

The deal refers to “loss and damage” related to climate change and its impacts, but explicitly states that the relevant article in the core text of the deal is not a basis for liability and compensation. This means that climate reparations though would see wealthy countries largely responsible for fueling climate change pay their carbon debts to poorer countries are still far from a reality.

OPINION: World Leaders Signed a ‘Death Warrant for the Planet’ at COP21

obama 12c.jpgAccording to a report from Democracy Now!, President Barack Obama only agreed to include loss and damage in the COP21 deal if the clause could not be used as a legal basis for paying climate compensation. The issue was a key area of dispute throughout the negotiations.

Climate reparations were never on the agenda at COP21, despite being put forward by Global South countries such as Ecuador and Bolivia as a strategy to help the most vulnerable in the face of climate change, while holding rich and polluting countries accountable.

But the loss and damage component is a big disappointment for climate justice campaigners, and likely to doom developing countries to climate-induced suffering due to the lack of legally-binding compensation for big polluters’ damage to the climate.

  1. The legally binding commitments are weak, while key items are not binding at all.

While the COP21 deal has been widely celebrated as a binding agreement, what exactly countries are bound to is a telling sign of how far short the deal falls.

There is no legally binding agreement on climate finance, a critical but highly disputed part of the agreement. While the deal urges rich countries to take the lead on helping to provide developing countries with financing and technologies to help adapt and mitigate climate change, all financing is voluntary.

RELATED: 5 Things You Need to Know About COP21

Voluntary financing is a huge let down for climate activists, which have been calling for wealthy countries to help finance global transition to clean energy.

The utter lack of mention of fossil fuels in the text of the deal also points to failure of the deal to grapple with urgent climate change priorities. It calls for globally emissions to peak “as soon as possible,” but does not mandate a specific timeline for emissions reductions, leaving countries ​free to keep polluting.

The deal also does not come close to laying out a plan for phasing out fossil fuels. As a result, the agreement is even weaker than the preliminary draft deal set out by G-7 nations earlier at the U.N. Climate Change Conference this year, slammed by climate advocates for dooming the world to “climate chaos” by proposing to phase out fossil fuels by the end of the century.

What’s more, though 195 countries have signed onto the climate deal, which will only come into effect after being ratified by at least 55 nations, any country can withdraw from the deal after three years.

So while global leaders pat themselves on the back for overcoming the failure of COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009 by reaching a so-called legally binding agreement, the deal has still failed to force world leaders to commit to changes on core issues to tackle climate change in an urgent, effective, and holistic way.

  1. There are no measure to hold corporations accountable.

The deal focuses on the responsibilities of countries to lower carbon emissions by their own voluntary pledges, and as a result leaves corporations off the hook from legally binding climate action.

The agreement “welcomes” and “invites” stakeholders other than countries, including private corporations, to participate in efforts to tackle climate change, it does not mandate corporations to change their practices in response to an increasingly warming world. This leaves the door open for fossil fuels companies to continue to pollute.

RELATED: TPP Dooms World to Climate Crisis

What’s more, many of the same global leaders who made high-profile speeches about the urgency of climate change at COP21 are at the same time cozying up to big corporate polluters with the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, currently pending approval. The draft text of the TPP reveals enhanced power for corporations, including fossil fuels giants, such as rules to allow corporations to challenge national and international laws in secret trade courts.

This means the TPP could undermine any action that does result from the COP21 agreement by setting new limits on governments’ abilities to introduce strong policy to tackle climate change, such as renewable energy programs.

At the core, the COP21 agreement fails to recognize the underlying roots of climate change and the systemic and economic reasons for global carbon inequality and increasingly boiling global temperatures.

  1. It has no mention of human rights in the core body of the text.

The only mention of human rights in the final COP21 text appears in the preamble, not the core articles, which means there is no legally binding commitment to human rights in the deal.

While the draft text included a provisional mention of human rights in the section highlighting the purpose of the deal, world leaders ultimately opted for the weaker option of removing human rights from the purpose, leaving it only in the non-binding preamble.

OPINION: Climate Action: Why Justice in Paris is Unlikely

The deal also have no substantial attention to the rights of Indigenous peoples, among the hardest hit by climate change, and recognition of the role Indigenous communities play as stewards of the environment. There is also no mention of intergenerational equity or biodiversity in the core of the text, sidelining any commitment to protecting future generations and integrated ecosystems from the devastation of climate change.

As a result, the deal fails to take into account systemic causes and the key issues of human and environmental rights in the context of climate change and falls far short of a just climate deal.

Source:  5 Ways the COP21 Deal Dooms the Planet to Climate Change Chaos

Evo Morales at COP21: Capitalism is the Biggest Climate Threat

Source:  TeleSUR
30 November 2015

evo morales at cop21.jpgBolivian President Evo Morales advocates for system change in order to effectively address climate change at the Paris Cop21 climate summit. | Photo: ‏@jmkarg

The Bolivian president brought with him to the Paris climate talks a plan written by social movements to save “Mother Earth.”

Bolivian President Evo Morales once again blamed capitalism for environmental destruction, during his speech during the opening plenary of the COP 21 Climate Change Conference in Paris, France.

Morales called capitalism “the formula that has destroyed our species” and delivered a manifesto to save Mother Earth and life.

“On behalf of the social movements, I came here to raise the proposals agreed to at the last Climate Summit II held in Cochabamba, Bolivia, last October.”

He added that “today we have a unique and historic responsibility with Mother Earth. Let us express our concern for the dramatic effects of climate change that threaten Pachamama.”

Source:  Evo Morales at COP21: Capitalism is the Biggest Climate Threat

UN conference on climate change begins in France

France will chair and host the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), from 30 November to 11 December 2015. The conference is crucial because the expected outcome is a new international agreement on climate change, applicable to all, to keep global warming below 2°C.

world leaders at cop21.jpg
French President Francois Hollande (centre) poses for a photo with fellow world leaders during the opening day of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, on Monday. | Photo: Reuters

Civil society, relegated largely to the sidelines, is stressing the urgency of reaching a meaningful, just, and binding deal. Several high-profile delegates began addressing the audience at the COP21 conference in the town of Le Bourget, about 65 miles north of Paris Monday morning. And in the meantime, amid intense security measures coming just two and half weeks after the deadly terror attacks in Paris that claimed the lives of 130 people, the 147 world leaders began addressing the plenary.

The opening follows huge marches around the world demanding that leaders take concrete steps to combat climate change. While 40,000 people will be in attendance with some 3,000 journalists, along with scientists and exhibitors.

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Ecuador: Correa Calls for International Climate Justice Court

Source:  TeleSUR
27 November 2015

The Ecuadorean president said he would also stress the concept of “climate justice” at the upcoming COP21 climate summit.

rafael correa climate justice.jpgEcuadorean President Rafael during a speech at the University of Poitiers, France, Nov. 27. 2015. | Photo: Ecuadorean Presidency

Ecological debt

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa called Friday for the creation of an international climate justice court where developing countries would be able to hold wealthy countries accountable for what Correa described as an “ecological debt.”

Correa said lower-income countries that are rich in biodiversity and forests, such as Ecuador, should receive compensation from polluting countries for mitigating the impact of climate change by preserving the environment.

RELATED: Ecuadoreans Tackle Effects of Climate Change

​“Generally, countries that pollute are the rich and strong countries,” said Correa during a speech at the University of Poitiers, in France. Before becoming president, Correa was a distinguished university professor.

This is not the first time Correa has championed the concept of an “ecological debt” from rich to poorer countries.

Shortly after first arriving to power, the government of President Rafael Correa asked the international community to contribute 50 percent of the value of a portion of the oil reserves in Ecuadorean Amazon, an estimated US$3.6 billion, to refrain from extracting the oil. Ultimately, though, just over US$100 million was pledged. Of that only US$13.3 million was actually donated, forcing the government to abandon its plan not to extract oil from the Amazon.

RELATED: Ecuadorean State Oil Company Wins Environmental Prize

Climate justice

Correa is in Paris ahead of the COP21 climate change summit, where, in addition to representing his country, he will also speak on behalf of the 33 countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States in his capacity as the president pro-tempore of the bloc known as CELAC.

“If we fail to achieve binding agreements, this could be the beginning of the burial of our civilization,” warned Correa.

The Ecuadorean president said that in addition to the creation of a new climate court, he will stress the concept of “climate justice.”

Historical injustices

Underpinning the idea of climate justice is that efforts to address climate change must take into consideration historical injustices.

Lower-income and developing countries find themselves in the difficult position of working to develop their economies while facing pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, developed countries were able to freely contaminate the environment as they became industrialized economies.

In addition, the countries of the global South are seen as those more likely to be forced to confront the effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels and changing weather patterns.

ANALYSIS: COP21 – A Climate Summit Without Marches

Before departing for Paris, the Ecuadorean president said he was skeptical a deal could be brokered at COP21.

“We don’t have great expectations, because at the end of the day everything is a question of (who wields) power. The world is governed by power, not justice,” said Correa on Wednesday.

COP21 is set to begin on Nov. 29, one day earlier than previously scheduled. President Correa is scheduled to speak on Nov. 30.

Source:  Ecuador’s Correa Calls for International Climate Justice Court

Climate change: a race against the clock

Source:  Granma
November 5, 2015
By  Alejandro Nadal | informacion@granma.cu

The UN climate change conference to be held in Paris at the end of November, COP21, will be a decisive moment in the race against the clock to control increasing global temperature.

climate change conference  UN 2015The possibility of avoiding a climate change catastrophe exists. But the window of opportunity is closing fast. The climate change conference to be held in Paris at the end of November will certainly act as a decisive moment in this race against the clock.

For years the target for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has been to stabilize the atmospheric concentration of these at a maximum level of 450 parts per million (ppm). That goal requires cutting GHG emissions by 80 percent by 2050, which would ensure that the change in global temperature does not exceed 2 degrees Celsius.

As things stand today, achieving this goal of 450 ppm appears very difficult. To do so, the richest countries of the world should already be markedly reducing their emissions and by 2025, which is really just around the corner, the greenhouse gas emissions of all countries, rich and poor, should be falling. The possibility of achieving this goal exists, but is at risk of vanishing.

The fate of humanity

The twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be held in Paris in just a few weeks time. The basic draft document for the COP21 negotiations has already been released (October 5) and is marked by serious problems. It is a 20-page document from which the fate of humanity literally hangs.

As is known, in the framework of the negotiations ahead of COP21, each country is called to present their independently determined national commitments (now known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs).These commitments beg the following question: Who determines the emission reductions that each country should apply?

Since negotiations on reductions and emission ceilings have been stalled for years (to be exact, since shortly before COP15 six years ago in Copenhagen), it was thought that it would be better to allow each country the absolute freedom to establish its own national goals.

Today we have before us the national commitments that have been voluntarily presented to the UNFCCC secretariat. The result is truly discouraging. Several renowned economists have calculated the sum of all these national targets and found that they correspond to an equivalent of just 44 gigatons of CO2, when what is required is a cut of 55 gigatons by 2050 to keep on track for climate change of just 2 degrees Celsius.

Compliance

It is to be expected that between now and the beginning of COP21 in the French capital, several countries will amend their national commitments in order to achieve that goal. But the negotiation document has a flaw: it does not contain a mechanism to ensure compliance with these Intended Nationally Determined Contributions.

In reality, there is little hope of stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse gases at 450 ppm. To achieve this goal, greenhouse gas emissions can not exceed the maximum level of between 800 and a thousand gigatons of CO2: yet since 1880, 535 gigatons have already been emitted. Meanwhile, 250 gigatons have already been allocated to investments made in infrastructure linked to the fossil fuel industry in all its forms. Companies that have made such investments will wish to recover them and thus will do everything possible to ensure their facilities continue to operate and emit gigatons of CO2. That is, we are stuck on a path toward some really nasty surprises in terms of climate change.

There are also forces within the financial world that tend to keep us trapped on this path. Today the top 200 businesses related to the fossil fuel industry have a market value of around 4 trillion dollars and a good portion of that amount is based on the value of their reserves. If a strong agreement were achieved at COP21, with a clear commitment to reduce emissions, the value of these reserves would suffer a sharp downward adjustment, perhaps of up to 60 percent.

The connections between the fossil fuel industry and the financial world are very strong and this would bring with it serious consequences. For example, it is estimated that pension funds and individual retirement accounts in the United States have 47 percent of shares in the oil and natural gas companies of the country. Clearly, in the financial sector there is also reluctance to change the energy profile of the global economy.

Only pressure from the peoples of all countries can counteract these forces. Perhaps there is still time, beyond what happens at COP21. (La Jornada)

Source:  Climate change: a race against the clock  Granma