Climate agreement falls short of a fair deal – but Paris is only the beginning

Responding to the final outcome of the climate change agreement released on Saturday morning in Paris, Adriano Campolina, Chief Executive of ActionAid, said:

What we needed out of Paris was a deal which put the world’s poorest people first those who are living with the constant threat of the next disaster. Yet what we have been presented with doesn’t go far enough to improve the fragile existence of millions around the world.

Mitigation

“The elevated status and hype around the idea of a 1.5 degree warming limit didn’t result in any real and concrete commitments. A limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius cannot be achieved with the emission cuts rich countries put on the table, which will in fact lead to temperature rises of 3 degrees. The Paris agreement needed to set a clear pathway and targets for countries with the most responsibility for causing climate change to curb their emissions and to provide support.

“Rich countries must not interpret the long-term goal as a license to continue polluting, while crossing their fingers that the problem can be solved through false solutions such as Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage, which leads to massive land grabs. That would lead to the world’s most vulnerable people being kicked off their land, infringing their rights and putting food security at risk, to solve a problem that they did not create.

Loss and damage

“The issue of loss and damage was a clear point of contention throughout the negotiations. Developing countries called for a deal which would offer support to people suffering the catastrophic consequences of rising sea levels and soaring temperatures.  The US and several other rich countries instead took the opportunity of the Paris talks to deny people this right putting them at their mercy for dealing with climate change impacts.

“The phrase ‘does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation’ in the final agreement cannot be taken lightly. In practice this will strip developing countries of their rights to assistance from richer nations and means, as climate related issues such as displacement and loss of land continue to destroy nations, many will be left to face up to these disasters alone. Essentially those polluting the earth are getting off scot-free, with no threat of future compensation. Cooperation alone, should not wipe out obligation.

Finance

“While the issue of providing climate finance to developing countries has been agreed upon, the final deal does not provide any real assurance to poor countries on how much finance will be delivered, when it will be delivered by, or how much of it will be available for adaptation.

“There are nods in the right direction in many places in the text – nice words, but carefully placed to have no legal meaning. What the text does instead is reduce the obligation of rich countries to provide finance and correspondingly increase the obligations of poor countries. Much like the rest of the agreement, the finance section lets the world’s biggest historical polluters off the hook and fails to deliver for the poorest and most vulnerable.

“Finance is a key issue that underpins everything. Without finance, any promises this deal makes cannot become a reality.

The future

“Despite the disappointment, the Paris agreement provides an important hook on which people can hang their demands. As climate change continues to worsen and affect millions more, people are beginning to demand more from their governments and ask for the transformative change to secure homes, jobs and futures.  We already have the practical solutions to climate change, we now just need them to be scaled up with adequate support. Paris is only the beginning of the journey.”

ENDS

For more information, interviews and briefings, please contact Cora Bauer in Paris on +44 7787 1897 467 or cora.bauer@actionaid.org

ActionAid spokespeople in Paris available for interview:

  • Harjeet Singh - Global Lead on Climate Change
  • Brandon Wu - Senior Policy Analyst
  • Teresa Anderson - Policy and Communications Officer: Climate & Resilience
  • Kelly Stone - Policy Analyst

Interviews are available in English, Punjabi and Hindi.

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