Halfway Through Paris… And a Very Long Way from World-Saving Deal

October 8, 2020 0 By HearthstoneYarns

The COP21 climate talks in Paris reached their halfway point on Saturday, but a deal that experts and global justice campaigners would consider acceptable remains a long way off as the fossil fuel industry and wealthy nations maintain their powerful grip on the direction of the international summit.

Given the troubled history of the UN-sponsored talks, most members of civil society headed to Paris acknowledging the two-week gathering was unlikely to yield the kind of agreement that either the science of global warming, or the movement for climate justice, would find acceptable.

“At the core of this failure are the obstinate negotiating positions of the US and other Global North governments who are bent on deregulating the global rules applying to them and advancing the financial needs of big business over the survival needs of people.” —Tamar Lawrence-Samuel, Corporate Accountability International

However, in the wake of released draft texts by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the body governing the talks, environmental campaigners and rights groups are expressing contempt for the negative influence that powerful corporations and the fossil fuel industry—backed by the world’s wealthiest and most polluting nations—are having on the progress towards reaching an ambitious and transformative deal.

“The enemies of a decent deal know they have one week to kill words in the text that commit the world to ‘full decarbonization,'” said Martin Kaiser, head of the international climate negotiations for Greenpeace. “They know that would set us on a path towards 100% renewables by the middle of the century. Those regressive forces will fight instead for words that call for a ‘low emission transformation,’ knowing that such a watered down phrase will do almost nothing to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

At speech inside the conference hall on Saturday, Tony de Brum, the Foreign Minister for the Marshall Islands, gave what was described as a “rousing speech,” touching on the vulnerability of low-lying nations and the world’s poor as he vowed to press for ambitious emissions targets as well as adequate levels of financial assistance to pay for the damage already triggered by greenhouse gases.

“We cannot leave Paris with a minimalist agreement, we must build a coalition of high ambition,” declared de Brum. “I refuse to go home without an agreement that I can look my grandchildren in the eye and be proud of my contribution.”

Also on Saturday morning, the UNFCCC released the latest draft text (pdf) of the chapter focused on national financial commitments designed to deal with the impacts of global warming in the decades to come. As Fiona Harvey reports for the Guardian:

Tamar Lawrence-Samuel, associate research director for the U.S.-based Corporate Accountability International, responded to the latest draft by describing it as an affront to the “historical responsibility of the Global North” and said it offers only more proof that rich nations remain the key blockers of the urgently needed transition away from dirty energy.

“Not only are we seeing an ambition deficit, but we are seeing a fundamental lack of justice.” —Asad Rehman, Friends of the Earth International


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