Climate Justice Groups Respond To The Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement on climate change fails to address the needs of climate-vulnerable peoples and the realities of climate science and is no advance on 1992, says climate justice activists.
"Saving the principle of equity was the single biggest battle. Despite the intense political pressure which the United States put on the leaders of several developing countries, the principle of equity that will take us to climate justice was successfully defended. However, the devil is in the detail." - Chee Yoke Ling, Director, Third World Network

"At the moment the draft Paris agreement still puts us on track for 3 degree world. The reviews are too weak and too late. The political number mentioned for finance has no bearing on the scale of need. It's empty. The iceberg has struck, the ship is going down and the band is still playing to warm applause." - Asad Rehman, Friends of the Earth Internationa

"The Paris outcome points us towards a 1.5C temperature limit with a long term mitigation goal, but the pledges on the table deliver a 3C world. The gap between the current commitments and where we need to be can only be addressed by rich countries committing to increase action, as well as support for developing countries to do more than their fair share. Highest per-capita polluters such as Australia need to demonstrate the world really has changed, through committing to serious climate actions." - Kate Dooley, Doctoral researcher University of Melbourne 

"The US is a cruel hypocrite. Obama spoke about embracing the US's role of creating the problem and the need to take responsibility. This is all talk and no action. They created a clause that excludes compensation and liability for the losses and damages brought on by climate chaos. This is a deliberate plan to make the rich richer and the poor poorer." - Lidy Nacpil, Asian People's Movement on Debt and Development

"The Paris Agreement will be known as the Polluters' Great Escape since it weakens rules on the rich countries and puts the world on a pathway to 3C warming where, so far, only China appears to be doing its "fair share." Kerry came to town with no confirmed funds for GCF, and an INDC at risk from a hostile U.S. Congress whose two top donors are Charles and David Koch, fossil fuel billionaires with two million acres in the Alberta tar sands and a significant financial stake in free pollution.  Correcting this dangerous course requires the U.S. climate movement to go home and work with other constituencies to replace Koch's pro-carbon candidates with real climate champions in the 2016 elections. Only then will ambition and equity have any hope." - Victor Menotti, International Forum on Globalization

"The price tag for climate damages this century will be in the trillions, with much of that damage in poor and vulnerable countries. The US is responsible for much of that toll, but they don't care and they won't pay. With arm twisting of developing countries, they have language now protecting the richest and heaping devastating costs onto the poorest." - Doreen Stabinsky, Visiting Professor of Climate Change Leadership, Uppsala University, Sweden and Professor of Global Environmental Politics,College of the Atlantic, Maine, US

"Close to 100% reductions are needed by developed countries already by 2030 for a reasonable chance of 2°, let alone 1,5° world. Paris had the opportunity to deliver radical pre-2020 action and did none of this. Developed countries refusal to commit to either cuts or necessary finance means we are sleepwalking into climate chaos." - Niclas Hällström, What Next Forum
"While it may earn pats on the back for US negotiators from the big polluters pulling the strings, this agreement fails the people who need urgent action and may be a death sentence for many. To deliver solutions that work for people and our planet, we must insulate this process from the corrosive influence of big polluting industries." - Tamar Lawrence-Samuel, Corporate Accountability International

"The deal fails to deliver the rules and tools to ensure that climate change doesn't spiral out of control. Many in Paris seem to have forgotten the very people that this climate agreement was supposed to protect. The deal won't deliver support to help farmers in developing countries whose crops are failing as a result to climate impacts. It does not ensure that food security is protected, and it could even drive farmers off their land, by allowing dubious climate offsetting strategies

Countries who are struggling to cope with climate impacts, who don't have the money to undertake adaptation projects, and who certainly don't have the means to invest in transforming to green economies, will be left behind by this agreement. There is no certainty about finance, there is no real means to ensure that loss and damage will be dealt with.

At least this moment has brought so many people together to understand that climate change is relevant to all our lives. In spite of this result in Paris, people all over the world must push their governments to go beyond what they have agreed here." - Teresa Anderson, Policy Officer, ActionAid International

"Close to 100% reductions are needed by developed countries already by 2030 for a reasonable chance of 2°, let alone 1,5° world. Paris had the opportunity to deliver radical pre-2020 action and did none of this. Developed countries refusal to commit to either cuts or necessary finance means we are sleepwalking into climate chaos." - Niclas Hällström, What Next Forum

"The biggest misconception around 1.5 is that mentioning it means that they will actually meet that goal. This agreement did not actually design a pathway for how to achieve 1.5. We came to Paris needing a way to achieve tangible results, instead we came out with more empty promises and false solutions" - Martin Vilela, the Bolivian Platform on Climate Change


COP21: Draft final agreement - Friends of the Earth reaction

*** Friends of the Earth spokespeople available for interview in Paris and London ***

Commenting on the final climate deal agreed in Paris today, Friends of the Earth CEO Craig Bennett said:

“This climate deal falls far short of the soaring rhetoric from world leaders less than two weeks ago.

“An ambition to keep global temperature rises below 1.5 degrees is all very well, but we still don’t have an adequate global plan to make this a reality. This agreement leaves millions of people across the world under threat from climate-related floods, droughts and super-storms.

“However, this is still a historic moment. This summit clearly shows that fossil fuels have had their day – and that George Osborne’s outdated, backward energy policies must be reversed if he wants to be on the right side of history. 

“Energy efficiency and renewable power should form the backbone of Britain’s future energy policy, yet ministers have spent the past seven months undermining investment in these crucial areas at every opportunity.

“The Prime Minister must also end Britain’s scandalous support for fossil fuels, including fracking. This nation is the only G7 country to be actively expanding fossil fuel subsidies.

“People power across the world has forced Governments to start taking this issue seriously – and people power will win the day.”



Global Justice Now press release

12 December 2015

Paris agreement: I.5 degrees in the text, but 3 degrees in reality

Responding to the UN climate talks reaching a final agreement, Nick Dearden the director of Global Justice Now said:

"The Paris negotiators are caught up in a frenzy of self-congratulation about 1.5 degrees being included in the agreement, but the reality is that the reductions on the table are still locking us into 3 degrees of global warming. This will have catastrophic impacts on some of the most vulnerable countries and communities. And yet the deal seems to be shifting more responsibility on those countries who are least responsible for the problem, and the finance that has been agreed on is just a fraction of what is broadly agreed is necessary for those countries to cope with the impacts of climate catastrophe. The bullying and arm twisting of rich countries, combined with the pressure to agree to a deal at all costs, has ensured that the agreement will prevent poor countries from seeking redress for the devastating impacts of a crisis that has been thrust upon them.
"What has been inspiring in Paris is the multitude of action on climate being taken by a huge cross section of global civil society, from small farmers, to indigenous people, to trade unions, to direct action groups. As politicians fail to respond to the crisis, people power is stepping up to meet the challenge."





Governments Set Course for Ambitious Action on Climate Change; More Immediate Steps Needed

An ambitious plan emerged from Africa to develop renewable energy sources by 2020

PARIS, France, December 12, 2015/ -- World governments finalized a global agreement today in Paris that lays a foundation for long-term efforts to fight climate change. More effort is needed to secure a path that would limit warming to 1.5C. This new agreement should be continuously strengthened and governments will need to go back home and deliver actions at all levels to close the emissions gap, resource the energy transition and protect the most vulnerable. The Paris talks also created a moment that produced announcements and commitments from governments, cities and business that signalled that the world is ready for a clean-energy transition.

Governments arrived in Paris on a wave of momentum with more than 180 countries bringing national pledges on climate action. This progress was bolstered by impassioned speeches from more than 150 heads of state and governments and unprecedented mobilisations around the world that included hundreds of thousands of citizens demanding action on climate change. After two weeks of negotiations, governments reached an agreement that represents some progress in the long-term. This must urgently be strengthened and complemented with accelerated action in the near-term if we are to have any hope of meeting the ultimate goal of limiting global warming well below 2C or 1.5C. Additionally, the finance for adaptation, loss and damage and scaled up emission reductions should be the first order of work after Paris.

While the Paris agreement would go into effect in 2020, science tells us that in order to meet the global goal of limiting warming to 1.5C or well below 2C, emissions must peak before 2020 and sharply decline thereafter. The current pledges will provide about half of what is needed, leaving a 12 to 16 gigatonne emissions gap.

Tasneem Essop, head of WWF delegation to the UN climate talks:

“The Paris agreement is an important milestone. 
We made progress here, but the job is not done. We must work back home to strengthen the national actions triggered by this agreement. We need to secure faster delivery of new cooperative efforts from governments, cities, businesses and citizens to make deeper emissions cuts, resource the energy transition in developing economies and protect the poor and most vulnerable. Countries must then come back next year with an aim to rapidly implement and strengthen the commitments made here.”

Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s global climate and energy initiative:

“We are living in a historic moment. 
We are seeing the start of a global transition towards renewable energy. At the same time, we’re already witnessing irreversible impacts of climate change. The talks and surrounding commitments send a strong signal to everyone – the fossil fuel era is coming to an end. As climate impacts worsen around the world, we need seize on the current momentum and usher in a new era of cooperative action from all countries and all levels of society.”

Yolanda Kakabadse, president of WWF-International (

“The climate talks in Paris did more than produce an agreement – this moment has galvanized the global community toward large-scale collaborative action to deal with the climate problem. At the same time that a new climate deal was being agreed, more than 1,000 cities committed to 100 per cent renewable energy, an ambitious plan emerged from Africa to develop renewable energy sources by 2020, and India launched the International Solar Alliance, which includes more than 100 countries to simultaneously address energy access and climate change.These are exactly the kind of cooperative actions we need to quickly develop to complement the Paris agreement.”

The Paris agreement needed to be fair, ambitious and transformational. Results in these key areas for WWF were mixed:

Create a plan to close the ambition gap, including finance and other support to accelerate action now and beyond 2020

The agreeement includes some of the elements of an ambition mechanism such as 5 year cycles, periodic global stock-takes for emission reduction actions, finance and adaptation, and global moments that create the opportunity for governments to enhance their actions. However, the ambition and urgency of delivering climate action is not strong enough and will essentially be dependent on governments to take fast and increased action, and non-state actors, including cities, the private sector and citizens, to continue ambitious cooperative actions and to press governments to do more.

Deliver support to vulnerable countries to limit climate impacts and address unavoidable damage.

The inclusion of a Global Goal on Adaptation as well as separate and explicit recognition for Loss and Damage are important achievements in the agreement. This goes a long way in raising the profile and importance of addressing the protection of those vulnerable to climate change. The Agreement, however, does not go far enough in securing the support necessary for the protection of the poor and vulnerable.  

Establish a clear long-term 2050 goal to move away from fossil fuels and to renewable energy and sustainable land use.

By including a long-term temperature goal of well below 2C of warming and a reference to a 1.5C goal, the agreement sends a strong signal that governments are committed to being in line with science. In addition the recognition of the emissions gap and the inclusion of a quantified 2030 gigatonne goal should serve as a basis for the revision of national pledges ahead of 2020.

The agreement sets 2018 as a critical global moment for countries to come back to the table and take stock of their current efforts in relation to this global goal and this should result in stronger and enhanced actions on emission reductions, finance and adaptation.

The Paris agreement made good progress by recognising, in a unique article, that all countries must act to halt deforestation and degradation and improve land management. The agreement also included a process that can provide guidance for land sector accounting. Adequate and predictable financial support for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation could have been stronger. 



Paris forges momentum towards enduring climate action 

Paris, 12 December 2015 – Today, at the UN climate talks in Paris a global deal where all countries have agreed to take action on climate change was adopted. Carbon Market Watch comments on the long-term goal, the ambition ratcheting mechanism, provisions for the use of markets, the establishment of a new mechanism, human rights provisions, bunker emissions, pre-2020 action and the impact of the Paris treaty on EU’s climate policies.

The Paris Agreement marks a major step forward on climate action. While it is still early to absorb all the implications of the 31 pages of text, in mitigation, there have been seismic shifts, particularly:
  • Aiming to limit global warming to 1.5C
  • Working to increase ambition every five years
  • Developing robust rules for the use of carbon markets
  • Establishing a new mechanism that moves beyond offsetting
  • Recognizing the need to protect human rights
  • Increasing recognition of the importance of international aviation and shipping emissions
  • Adding quality rules for the cancellation of carbon credits pre-2020
  • Sending signals to strengthen the EU’s climate policies
“The French Presidency achieved a miracle in presenting a detailed treaty acceptable to all Parties. At first reading, the new global climate treaty is surprisingly positive. We are still looking for the loopholes.” commented Eva Filzmoser, director at Carbon Market Watch.

Long term goal
Five years ago, Parties agreed that the global average temperature should be limited to 2 degrees celsius. In Paris, following a two-year review of science, the agreement is now “holding the increase in global average temperature to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels”.

Dr. Katherine Watts, global climate policy advisor commented:
 “It is great to see that Parties have embraced a spirit of solidarity with the most vulnerable in agreeing to try to limit warming to 1.5C. Countries will now have to make it happen, but this should be easier than ever as costs of clean technologies are falling rapidly and innovation creates new opportunities to decarbonize.”

Ambition ratcheting
The current INDCs only limit warming to around 3C, far higher than the newly-agreed 1.5C goal. It is therefore extremely important that countries enhance their current INDCs, and also look to far greater ambition in future.

Dr. Katherine Watts, global climate policy advisor commented:
 “The Paris Agreement creates common moments when countries are expected to bring forward their contributions. This helps to make countries do their homework to decide what they can bring to the table. It is very gratifying to see that these will happen every 5 years, in line with political cycles to increase accountability for achieving the goals”.

Role of markets under the Paris agreement
The Paris agreement contains several provisions related to carbon pricing and markets. Countries can use and transfer “mitigation outcomes” to other countries, which opens the door to the linking of Emissions Trading Systems. The accounting rules for such transfers will be developed in the coming years and will include guidance on how to avoid the “hot air” trading of bogus pollution permits, including the avoidance of doubled-counted emission reductions. The agreement also obliges countries to promote environmental integrity and to pursue domestic climate measures to achieve their targets, thereby limiting the amount of international carbon credits that can be used.

Eva Filzmoser, director at Carbon Market Watch commented:
 “Paris has enshrined the core principles for using carbon markets, though much work remains. The challenge is now to learn from past mistakes that led to billions of hot air credits when elaborating guidance for markets over the next years”.

New mechanism to contribute to mitigation and sustainable development 
Similar to the establishment of the UN’s carbon offsetting mechanism Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in Kyoto, the Paris climate deal established a new mechanism, entitled ‘mechanism to contribute to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainable development’. The new mechanism, considerably widens the scope, compared to the CDM, with a number of additional key elements that are yet to be defined in subsequent modalities and procedures:
  • Moves beyond pure offsetting, including a net mitigation element
  • Moves away from being project based to a mechanism including policies and measures, e.g. “mitigation activities”
  • All countries, including developed and developing countries, can participate in the mechanism, meaning, they can generate or use carbon offsets  
  • Needs to ensure environmental integrity and transparency, including in governance, and apply robust accounting rules to avoid double counting
Eva Filzmoser, director at Carbon Market Watch commented:
“We very much welcome that the new market provisions include robust accounting rules and a shift of the new mechanism beyond pure offsetting. However, the new mechanism is very complex so a watchful eye will be required when developing the modalities and procedures in the course of the next few years.”

Human rights
Following calls from numerous countries that wanted to see human rights recognized in the operative part of the agreement, compromise was found with detailed preambular language that specifies that parties, when taking action to address climate change, have to respect, promote and consider respective human rights obligations. This also includes the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity.

Juliane Voigt, human rights policy researcher commented:
“The new Paris agreement recognizes the interconnectivity of climate change and human rights and sets the foundation to make the new sustainable development mechanism accountable to human rights obligations.”

Emissions from international aviation 
International aviation and shipping are not included in national emissions reduction targets. The Kyoto Protocol called on the International Civil Aviation Organization and International Maritime Organization to work on developed countries’ emissions, but progress has been intangible. The Paris agreement ideally would have called upon these sectors to reduce their emissions in line with the 1.5C goal and explicitly have brought them into the global stocktake.

Dr. Katherine Watts, global climate policy advisor commented:
“The world’s diminishing carbon budget requires immediate and ambitious action from the fast growing international aviation and shipping sectors. Together, they already account for 5% of global CO2 emissions and their other emissions cause even greater warming. The 1.5°C temperature goal places an obligation on all sectors to act, and aviation and shipping are no exceptions.” 

Pre-2020 carbon credit cancellation 
After a push for the cancellation of carbon credits to increase ambition pre-2020, Paris stipulated quality criteria for such an action.

Eva Filzmoser, director at Carbon Market Watch commented:
 “Quality of cancelled carbon offsets is essential. The decision text is a good starting point but it needs to be clear that the vintage restrictions and accounting rules apply not only to CDM offset credits but all carbon credits alike”. 

Impacts on the EU’s climate policies
The Paris agreement implements a 5-year review of the climate pledges guided by a global stocktake that assesses the collective progress towards achieving the long-term 1.5°C objective. Since the EU’s 2030 climate target is currently calibrated to limit global temperature rise to only 2°C, rather than 1.5°C, the EU will need to submit an updated target to the UNFCCC before 2020.

Femke de Jong, EU climate policy advisor:
“The momentum in Paris should be translated into higher ambition in Europe, as reductions far beyond the -40% target by the year 2030 are required to stay within the newly adopted 1.5C goal. Also the EU’s mitigation cycles must be synchronized to those agreed in the Paris climate agreement by adopting five-year periods.”


Climate News Network:
COP21: “It is rare in any lifetime to have a chance to change the world”, declared France's President François Hollande as the UN climate talks finally closed.

By Paul Brown

PARIS, 12 December, 2015 – When 196 nations agreed a new treaty aimed at preventing dangerous climate change, mass rejoicing broke out, and signs of celebration still fill the bleak halls and corridors where the deal was finally hammered out.

 Politicians and some climate change campaigners believe it will alter the course of history, while others fear it may still be a case of “too little, too late”.

 But after years of failures and wrangling it was a breakthrough to get a treaty on which the whole world agreed. It was a tense day, because until the last second some delegate, somewhere in the hall, could object, thus destroying the consensus the treaty needed in order to be accepted.

The treaty binds all nations to change fundamentally their economies and put protection of the environment, particularly reduction of their greenhouse gas emissions, at the forefront of policy. It will come into force on 1 April 2017, when enough countries have ratified it, and there will be a five-year review process to make further emissions cuts.

In the meantime countries are urged not to wait until 2020 to cut emissions, but to act now to avoid even deeper cuts later on.

These cuts are needed immediately because the agreement states that there is a “significant gap” between countries' plans to reduce greenhouse gases and what is actually required to keep the world safe.

In fact the agreement acknowledges that the risks of global warming are far greater than previously understood, and it aims to keep temperatures “well below” the 2°C previously agreed and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C.

To achieve this lower level, there must no net increase in emissions in the second half of this century – effectively spelling the end for the coal industry, and major reductions in the use of all fossil fuels.

Historic moment

Lord Stern, president of the British Academy, who has repeatedly warned that climate change is getting out of control, was delighted. He said: “This is a historic moment, not just for us and our world today, but for our children, our grandchildren and future generations. The Paris Agreement is a turning point in the world’s fight against unmanaged climate change, which threatens prosperity and wellbeing among both rich and poor countries.”

Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister and president of the conference, who was in large part the architect of the agreement, having worked tirelessly for many months meeting world leaders, received a long standing ovation.

He had made an impassioned plea before the final text was issued for none of the delegates to object. “Our responsibility to history is immense”, he said. The agreement was not just about climate: it was about food security, public health, combatting poverty, the essential rights of people, and ultimately world peace.

Both Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general and François Hollande, the French president, also exhorted delegates to put aside their differences and agree the compromise text. A month after the Paris shootings, Hollande said, it was a chance to send a different message to the world: “12 December 2015 will be a date to go down in history as a major leap for mankind.”

He said the credibility of the international community was at stake and told delegates: “It is rare in any lifetime to have a chance to change the world. I ask you to grasp it.”

Whether the Paris agreement proves to be a turning point in human history will certainly take a few years to judge. The national climate plans of 186 countries logged in advance of the talks will not prevent the planet from dangerous overheating, but they are a massive change in policy and can be ramped up to cut emissions dramatically.

The agreement boosts energy efficiency and renewables like solar, wind, biomass and geothermal energy. Business representatives attending the conference said this was an important signal that investments in green technology would be a safe bet, and anyone with investments in coal, in particular, and other fossil fuels in general would be sensible to get their money out as quickly as possible.

For many countries attending the conference this was still not enough. Even if the 1.5°C target was reached, which scientists say is highly unlikely, a number of low-lying small island states in the Pacific and Caribbean will disappear off the map. Sea level rise is already threatening their existence and forcing some of their citizens to migrate.

 Among the glaring omissions in the agreement is its failure to tackle the ever-growing emissions from shipping and aircraft. Shipping, which uses particularly dirty oil, could be improved with technology, but for aviation there is currently no reduction strategy or alternative fuel.

The conference simply accepted early on that there was no chance of reaching any meaningful agreement on the subject, leaving it out altogether and placing the planet in great jeopardy of overheating as a result.

Helen Szoke, executive director, Oxfam, summed up for the doubters: “This deal offers a frayed life-line to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

Only the vague promise of a new future climate funding target has been made, while the deal does not force countries to cut emissions fast enough to forestall a climate change catastrophe. This will only ramp up adaptation costs further in the future.”

And this was the summing-up from one leading British scientist, Professor Chris Rapley, of University College London: “Time will reveal the true nature of the COP21 deal. From epic turning point, to naive expression of hope, it is the real-world actions that follow which will decide.

“The transformation of the energy system, the economic system and politics that must now follow will be fought by the risk-blind and powerful forces of the status quo. The tide has turned, and they can either swim with it, or against it. But the current has surged.” – Climate News Network
Global Warming (Effetto Serra)

Global Warming (Effetto Serra)

Image by Roberto Rizzato

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