Now that the COP21 agreement has been signed, what exactly does this mean for climate change and for the average person? A quick analysis shows that this treaty will not stop global warming and vulnerable communities will be worse off. COP21 is all hype and no substance and is purposely couched in ambiguous language.
Laurent Fabius was instrumental in ensuring COP21 was a success. He used his considerable influence to get the agreement passed. About two hundred countries participated in COP21, in what has been hailed as the best chance to restrain climate change. Carbon emissions will be limited and the rise in worldwide temperatures will be kept to 1.5C in the short term and 2C (3.6F) by the turn of the century. The treaty stresses that greenhouse gases must peak as soon as possible. The developing South was also promised financial assistance to overcome the effects of climate change. The developed North pledged to transfer technology to developing countries to switch from ‘dirty’ to green power.
Voluntary Pledges and Vague Targets
The climate deal was accepted, despite major differences between the developed and developing world. It will come into affect in 2020. Many civil society organizations and non-governmental bodies were banned from participating. The Paris climate pact is evasive on timelines and reaching concrete targets. Emission reductions are only required to start from 2020. Green house gas emissions from sectors such as the airline and shipping industry are not included in the text. Governments will deliver on goals set by politics and not by science. Signatories to the Paris treaty are legally bound to set targets but are not legally required to meet them. Without immediate action on carbon emissions, global temperatures could easily exceed the 1.5 C limit by 2020.
Assisting Developing Countries to Combat Climate Change
Fighting climate change is also about redistribution and equity. The wealthy nations have promised $100 billion annually until 2020. This amount is ridiculously inadequate considering that the world will have to spend approximately $1000 billion a year to drastically curtail green house gases and to switch to green energy. Two thirds of this money will have to come from the developing nations.
Meanwhile world governments subsidize coal, oil and gas to the tune of $5300 billion a year. The common argument that removing fossil fuel subsidies will hit the poor most is false. The rich will be affected the most– they own more cars, houses, air conditioning units and other appliances. The rich would have to scale down their lives drastically. An additional $150 billion will be need to help vulnerable countries survive rising sea levels, crop damage, disease and other climate change issues.
Poor nations will face the full financial and environmental impact of climate change, yet there is no effective financial compensation clause in the COP21 pact. Countries already affected by adverse weather patterns were bullied and bribed into dropping the clause.
Limiting the Increase in Global Temperatures by 1.5C (2.7 F).
The text of the accord is vague on how global temperatures will be limited to 1.5C. One of the measures is achieving a balance between carbon emissions and sequestration plans. There is no urgent push for renewable energy technologies, but heavy emphasis is placed on carbon capture, geo-engineering and the planting new forests to reduce emissions by 2050. The term forest no doubt means plantation forests. The planting of timber plantations will further contribute to carbon emissions. Other measures include carbon trading, which will allow fossil fuel burning to continue unchecked after 2050.
There is no immediate moratorium on burning fossil fuels, new petroleum projects and deforestation. The Paris deal is not really legally binding on signatories and current trade deals can easily flout environmental regulations. COP21 is about the intention to halt carbon emissions and not the quick adoption of clean technologies to reduce carbon dioxide and methane emissions.
The Paris climate conference represents the interests of corporations over the interests of people. It is a farce and threatens the lives of billions of people.