The looming Paris tragedy: A disastrous climate deal that will see the planet burn

The looming Paris tragedy: A disastrous climate deal that will see the planet burn

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By Mary Louise Malig (Isis Alvarez translation)

There are only a few days of negotiations left before the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It is assumed that from October 19 to 23, 2015, the UNFCCC will have to specify the modalities of the Paris agreement. At this point, we should have a good idea of ​​what this deal will be like. After all, since COP17 in Durban, South Africa where the mandate to elaborate a new climate agreement until 2030 was adopted, a total of 85 days of negotiation have already passed, a good amount of carbon accumulated thanks to the flights of the 193 parties to the convention, and on the roadside thousands of dead and displaced due to typhoons, hurricanes, floods or droughts. In the Philippines alone, the strongest typhoon to ever hit land, Typhoon Haiyan, killed 6,000 people and left thousands homeless and without livelihoods.

However, at this point, there is no agreed text for the Paris treaty and instead, there are several documents. First, there is a 'Co-chair Tool' (1) that draws a possible scenario. During the last intersessional session in Bonn in September, the co-chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) presented a three-part tool for negotiations: The first part includes one of the issues that can be included in the potential Paris agreement; the second part those issues that will be presented in a decision and the third part includes those issues that need further negotiation and that will not be in the COP21 agreement or in any decision. In the co-chairs tool, the elements of a Paris agreement are clear: emission cuts that will be voluntary, flexibility mechanisms that will continue, more market-based mechanisms that will be proposed, and gaps in carbon accounting and solutions. based on technology that will abound. Already the term "net zero emissions" gives indications about the accounting trick since this term means that emissions have been leveled through accounting. So 'net zero emissions' does not translate to zero emissions, which is exactly what the climate urgently needs.

This week, as the mandate indicates, ADP co-chairs Ahmed Djoghlaf from Algeria and Daniel Reifsnyder from the USA, in addition to the Co-chairs Tool, have produced an unofficial document (2) just in time to the next inter-session in Bonn. Without a doubt, there is an element of the Greek tragedy in the fact that one of the co-presidents comes from one of the countries with the highest emissions and, ironically, never ratified the latest climate protocol. The unofficial document of October 5, 2015, provides details of a draft of the agreement and a draft of the Paris decision. The presidents have also submitted a preliminary decision on workstream 2 or pre-2020 ambition (3). All these documents are still under negotiation.

Another fundamental reason why we know that Paris will be an agreement that will burn the planet is that, at the time of writing this article, after the deadline of October 1 given by the UNFCCC, 119 Expected and Determined Contributions have been submitted at Level National (INDCs for its acronym in English).

This includes the 28 EU member states as 1. All major issuers are in these 119 filings. These INDCs are voluntary commitments by countries on how many emissions they intend to reduce by 2030. (4) A copy of the International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development that reports on these presentations says in this regard that, “although some estimates maintain that the actions described so far will result in global warming of three degrees Celsius above those pre-industrial levels, exceeding international agreement by one degree. ”(5) However, a recent study by Stern, details that the commitments reduction by the US, the EU and China - who together are responsible for 45 percent of global emissions, will not meet the 2030 target of 35 gigatons. of CO2 emissions almost double. (6) Emissions should be reduced in 2030 to 35 gigatons of CO2 and with the current INDCs of the most important countries, annual global emissions will be around 60 gigatons in 2030.


This goal of 2 degrees was agreed at the international level in 2007, after the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC) published its Fourth Assessment Report (7), which detailed that to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference in the system climate, emissions would have to stay below 2 degrees by 2020. It is now 2015, and the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report has reiterated that danger and even highlighted that “Many aspects of climate change and associated impacts will continue for centuries, even if anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions stop. The risks of abrupt or irreversible changes increase as the magnitude of warming increases. ”(8) This means that the longer the delay in reducing emissions, the greater the danger that the feedback mechanism of the climate system will exceed the limits. 2 degrees centigrade as a "safe limit".

This is the heart of the problem of the Paris agreement. The countries' emission targets are not subject to negotiation. They are voluntary promises that they may or may not put into practice and may even use market mechanisms to deceive and get out of the way. Emissions must be cut deeply, at their source, without gaps or market mechanisms, today and not 10 years from now. The lost decade waiting to shrink by 2030, will be a lost decade forever. The climate system does not work like it does in the movies - where warming stops the moment the protagonist succeeds - the emissions that are put into the system now will continue to burn well beyond 2030. There may not be a planet to “save ”The year 2030.

Capture of the entire process by corporations, especially by the fossil fuel and extractive industries - the main source of emissions - is most evident in business support as usual. In the entire 88 pages of the Co-Chair's tool, “fossil fuel” is mentioned only once and only to encourage governments to reduce or eliminate incentives for fossil fuel subsidies: “52 a. [Parties are encouraged] to [take action to] [reduce] [eliminate] [international support] [public incentives] [to] [eliminate] high carbon investments [, [including] [and] international subsidies of fossil fuels];] {paragraphs 102, 103 and 113 bis d. SCT} "(9)

In the declaration of the Climate Space, the demand of social movements is reiterated that 80 percent of fossil fuel reserves remain underground in order to stay below the 2 degree limit. (10) And how will this requirement be met if the sponsors of COP21 are from large carbon emitters and fossil fuel corporations such as EDF, Engie, Air France, Renault-Nissan and BNP Paribas? (eleven)


In addition to not addressing the main sources of emissions, the climate agreement, since the approval of the Kyoto Protocol, has allowed the use of market mechanisms. The creation of this carbon market has led to massive deception by Annex 1 countries (37 industrialized countries), escaping their legal commitment to reduce emissions by at least 5 percent below 1990 levels in the commitment period 2008-2012. The flexibility mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol allowed these Annex 1 countries to “offset” their emissions by doing “clean development” projects in developing countries or by buying and selling their carbon credits.

The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation + (REDD +) scheme, the final rules of which are supposed to be formally adopted in Paris, adds significantly to this deception by allowing countries to present any type of tree plantation or protection as contribution to mitigation, even when such activities are not additional or permanent, or when they trigger deforestation in other areas or countries, or are environmentally or socially damaging. This scheme allows countries to commodify or even sell their forests as carbon sinks, and ignores the true causes of forest loss, but blames indigenous peoples and small farmers for deforestation. As the NO-REDD Network in Africa has put it, “Reports indicate that deforestation and related emissions continue and that REDD +, rather than reducing them, is harming and vilifying forest-dependent communities and those who produce the most. part of the world's food - small farmers “. (12)

The belief in carbon markets as a panacea extends to the proposed Paris agreement, with proposals on including land use with related emissions and emission reductions. There is already a gap in the flawed accounting that is being proposed, and together with market mechanisms, it will create a new appropriation of all land as it creates REDD + for agriculture and soils.

First, the land's non-permanence makes it a much more theoretical carbon sink for emissions compared to the very real continuous burning of fossil fuels. More importantly, the logic of carbon accounting that determines agricultural policy means that agriculture will prioritize the needs of the carbon market rather than feeding the people and food sovereignty.

The World Bank and other transnational corporations (TNCs) in the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture are pushing for this type of agriculture - a system that produces more food on less land while being climate-resistant and absorbing carbon. The production of more food on less land is clearly supported by the corporations that promote the use of transgenic seeds. But it is the creation of a new market for soils and agriculture that represents the greatest attraction for transnational companies. Just as the REDD + monetary incentive has displaced Indigenous Peoples, the potential financial gains will displace small farmers and add more to the already existing land grab. As La Via Campesina, the world's largest movement of small farmers, states, “Climate-smart agriculture will lead to a greater concentration of land by pushing peasants and family farmers towards the projects of the World Bank, the Organization for Agriculture and Food (FAO) and other institutions, creating dependency on so-called new technologies through their complete packages that include recipes for “climate-smart varieties”, inputs and credit, without taking into account proven and traditional cultivation techniques. true adaptation as well as the custody of seed varieties practiced by small farmers ”. (13) LVC continues, “The potential for large returns with investments in carbon credits generated by farmland participating in climate-smart agriculture projects will increase speculation in the carbon market, leading to greater“ appropriation of carbon land ”by large-scale investors and producers, and the subsequent displacement of peasants and small farmers, just as REDD displaces indigenous people. Under this climate-smart agriculture framework, there is little hope of reducing and eliminating greenhouse gases, of trying to solve food insecurity, or of any significant economic and social rural development. "(14)


This story does not have to end in tragedy. In fact, it is being bravely challenged every day with all the daily struggles that take place by communities, indigenous peoples, small farmers, women, workers, students, activists, and heroes and heroines of Mother Nature who meet. at the forefront. The future has to be recovered, the system has changed and people's alternatives have to come forward.

The President's draft proposals for the Paris agreement - the agreement and the decision - need to be flatly rejected. The real danger of a bad deal is the fact that it will plunge us into a permanent "business as usual" deal where the planet burns. The strong advocacy for the Paris agreement that is desperately needed to "save the world" is scaremongering that puts people in a situation where they may take a very bad deal. Reminiscent of the days of campaigning against the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Doha Development Agenda, a call for no deal is better than a bad deal sounds sensible. No deal in Paris is better than a bad and false deal in Paris - precisely because like the WTO's Doha Development Agenda it subjects the world to unfair trade rules on food and agriculture; will it be that a false Climate Agreement in Paris will lock the world into a 'laissez faire' regime of pollution as usual, countries making cuts when they please, manipulating gaps in accounting to mislead on emission reductions, and the use and the creation of even more market mechanisms to commodify, finance and take advantage of the planet's remaining resources. If we are going to make Paris a resource to save the planet, then it should be about rejecting the false deal that is on the table.

The original Climate Convention that was adopted in 1992 and ratified by almost every country in the world, including the US and other major polluters, is a fairly generic agreement, but important as it forces countries to avoid dangerous change. climate and is firmly based on the Principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities. Since the Kyoto Protocol was established and introduced a cap and trade regime based on quantified accounting and flexibility mechanisms, the climate negotiations have gone nowhere, quite the contrary. Legally binding commitments have turned into voluntary pledges, and then into planned and nationally determined contributions. Common but Differentiated Responsibilities have become a vague regime applicable to all parties, disregarding both the historical responsibility and liability of Annex 1 countries and the fact that those who have done the least harm are less liable. . The long-standing demand for compensation for loss and damage has only been lip service in acknowledging the impacts of climate change.

A no-deal Paris scenario in December is not a disaster - it's an opportunity. It will create the space for the recovery of the original climate convention goals to halt dangerous climate change by holding polluters to account. It would also create the space for community solutions, some of which are already in practice and are cooling the planet - from peasant agroecology and sustainable energy solutions and community forest conservation. It would allow alternative proposals such as comprehensive policies and measures that do not focus on carbon accounting and markets. It will give room for transformative measures to be applied to achieve the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals including the goal of zero deforestation by 2020. There are many more alternatives and proposals that can be given space - the rights of nature, climate jobs , “good living”, food sovereignty, degrowth, deglobalization, and many more.

A world without a climate agreement in Paris is not only possible but necessary if we want to avoid tragedy. There are no limits to the alternatives.

* Mary Louise Malig, a researcher and trade analyst, is the campaign coordinator for the Global Forest Coalition.

* Isis Alvarez Advisor on gender issues and bioenergy campaign


(10) -will-lock-us-into-another-decade-of-burning-the-planet /
(14) ibid

Global Forest Coalition

Video: Is Climate Denial Destroying Our Planet? Full Program (July 2022).


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