The aim of the COP21 Agreement is to strengthen the global response to climate change by keeping the global average temperature rise well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. For the first time, the role of local governments has been recognised, and developed countries committed to the provision of $100 billion per year (from 2020) to support climate actions in the developing nations.
Article 4 “Invites Parties to communicate by 2020 long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies” but “Recommends that parties adopt rules, modalities and procedures on the basis of voluntary participation”. There is no mention in the Agreement to animal agriculture, one of the worst polluting industries. The sole mention to the topic of food is in “Recognizing the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change”.
The Agrement has been welcomed by some, and harshly criticized by others. Interviewed by The Guardian, the notorious ‘father of climate change awareness’, James Hansen referred to the conference as a fraud, and to the Agreement as a bunch of worthless words. An earlier Nasa scientist and currently a professor at Columbia University, Hansen is the man we owe the findings about the greenhouse effect. Hansen claims the Agreement lacks of ambition and that the only effective way to solve the issue is to impose taxes on each ton of GHG emmissions: “As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned” he said.
Lobbying forces have indeed played a role in shaping the Agreement. Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) denounced the presence of numerous corporate representatives at the Conference. A strong limitation here is that there is no obligation to stop polluting, so corporations can continue with their business as usual as long as they compensate for their emissions. Benjamin Sporton (World Coal Association), Myron Ebell (Director of the Center of Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute – CEI), Marc Morano (promoter of climate change denial), Chris Horner (fossil fuel industry apostle), Bjorn Lomborg (academic and author), Fiona Wild (manager of a mining company) and James Taylor (lawyer active in climate denial) are seven infamous names who oppose the deal.
The Agreement is highly deficient. Indeed, by engaging in the Agreement, 195 countries did make a step forward, showing that – hopefully – there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. Despite being is unsurprisingly weak, the Agreement is a message that change must come about starting with a shift towards cleaner energy sources. The executive director of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo said it best: “The Paris Agreement is only one step on a long road, and there are parts of it that frustrate and disappoint me, but it is progress. This deal alone won’t dig us out of the hole we’re in, but it makes the sides less steep”.