Eduardo Giesen, Colectivo VientoSur, Chile
(excuses for my broken English)
The title of this article, which contrasts with the theatrical joy we appreciate in the close of COP21, acquires its full meaning when you think about the millions of victims of global warming, those directly affected by extreme weather events and the rising level of the sea, on climate refugees; and when you understand that much of this past, present, and future victims are result of a lack of political will and decision by the governments gathered each year in the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
With high probability, the first and most enthusiastic celebrations following the agreement reached in Paris took place in the five star hotels of the French capital, where the negotiators of world powers and multinational corporations lobbyists accredited to the cop21 were staying.
Is that, although from the climate justice movements a bad deal was feared, which would continue with impunity for historically responsible for global warming, promotion of false solutions and commodification of nature, the text signed by the negotiators of 195 countries (only Nicaragua was sidelined) represents a deepening and perpetuating these trends in the context of international negotiations.
Bye Kyoto Protocol
The agreement raises the objective of limiting the global average temperature increase to 2 °C and making efforts (?) not to exceed 1.5 °C above the pre-industrial era, but do not set individual or group goals (according to level of responsibility or capability) for Parties (signatories) to achieve as a whole this overall objective, which already has been critiziced by activists and climate specialists, for being far from sufficient to halt the crisis.
As if it were an agreement between private companies, the agreement leaves the implementation of these global goals to the goodwill of the parties, by publishing and unilateral implementation of their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. That is, everyone agrees to reduce, not according to their responsibility for the crisis and reduction capabilities, but according to what they are willing to cut.
This, even though the agreed text acknowledges the INDCs committed until now by the parties are far from allowing meet the objective. It is estimated that they lead to an increase of at least 3°C -a true catastrophe.
Mistakenly, while not even consider emissions from air and maritime transport (approximately 10% of global GHG emissions), the agreement calls for Parties to report in 2020! their strategies for low carbon development with a view to 2050!
Carbon markets for all!
The agreement opens the door (even more than the Kyoto Protocol) to financial speculation and carbon markets, universally extending their operation -any country can issue or purchase carbon bonds. That is, projects and other initiatives or policies that supposedly reduce additional emissions, often negatively impacting the environment and violating human rights of local communities, can be developed in any country, so that any other country can pay cheap and registered as own these uncertain emission reductions, rather than realize them effectively in their own territory.
Funding for climate transition continued to generate a struggle between the industrialized and emerging powers in Paris, but finally remained unchanged: as agreed in Copenhagen in 2009, the first should contribute to a fund of 100,000 million annually until 2020 and the second would do so voluntarily. But there is no clarity or commitment on the amounts to be contributed by each country and on the proper use of funds. In fact, there are serious uncertainties regarding the accounting for transfers already made and the effectiveness of the solutions would be financed. Under the current scenario it does not seem very concerned that the Agreement does not provide for any commitments for funding after 2020.
Nor any effective mechanism was established to compensate for the “loss and damage” of the most vulnerable countries, where populations and ecosystems will continue to suffer crudely the impacts of climate change, which intensity will continue to increase for decades, in the name of economic growth, according to a agreement that foresees a peak of emissions with luck to half of the century.
The Paris Agreement confirms an irresponsible international support to false solutions based on hydro and nuclear mega-energy, agrobusiness and plantations, geo-engineering and carbon offset mechanisms, rather than a drastic and effective reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases by an also dramatic transformation in key production and economic systems, leaving the extractive matrix.
Chile well aligned with the false solutions
For its part, the Government of Chile has had a very consistent position with the evolution and outcome of the negotiations and, beyond its weak INDC document, its public policies show a pattern and a trend of great irresponsibility in front of the severity of the global crisis, and even more, about the high climate change vulnerability of our country.
An example of this is their persistent impulse of a forest model based on large pine and eucalyptus monocultures (about 3 million hectares), which, on the basis of an aberrant state subsidy, has caused an environmental and social disaster difficult to reverse, replacing native forests and agricultural lands, and usurping Mapuche territories. Far from contributing to the mitigation of global warming, these plantations dramatically increase the vulnerability, due to its high water consumption and high risk of fires.
Another example is the null government will to implement a law that effectively protects the andean glaciers, major water sources throughout the country, both for human consumption and for agricultural irrigation, domestic animal hydration and biodiversity conservation. In fact, against all recommendations from experts and the public opinion, the government has promoted a law that, under a false classification of strategic reserve, really protected the “strategic” interests of large national and multinational mining.
Moreover, while the government impulse to non-conventional renewable energies has been very stingy in terms of their relative availability compared to conventional sources, tailored to the needs of the extractive industry, their efforts to decarbonising the economy have been little, if any, supporting the implementation of new thermoelectric plants, approving the unsustainable exploitation of coal mines, allowing urban sprawl and uncontrolled increase in motorization.
The power from the COP to the street
As the world’s political leaders themselves (including Bachelet) said that the COP21 was the last chance to save the planet, today we can say that with this agreement, and while not occurring structural and paradigmatic shifts in the dominant world’s political and economic systems, it has exhausted the possibility of negotiations in the framework of the UN to play a leading role in combating climate change.
Today the main responsibility rests on the movements, social organizations and organized communities and their capacity to promote local, national and international processes of resistance to the continuity of an extractive and carbonized economy and against the imposition of false solutions to climate change, and to start transformation and resilience processes, based on new paradigms of society and political projects to realize them, fairer, more sustainable and democratic.
Our voices, our struggles, our alternatives have to join and occupy all spaces, streets and squares, municipalities and neighborhoods, rural and indigenous communities, schools and universities, government palaces and legislative congresses, unions and cooperatives, and articulate a great movement for peace, social, environmental and climate justice.