The COP21 Agreement, light at the end of the tunnel?

COP21The COP21 Agreement aims to strengthen the global response to climate change, by keeping 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 it is recognised the role of local governments in fighting climate change, and developed countries commited to the provision of $100 billion per year from 2020 to support the climate actions of 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 prime factors boosting climate change. 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, James Hansen notoriously the ‘father of climate change awareness’ referred to the conference as a fraud and to the Agreement as a bunch of worthless words. Earlier Nasa scientist, currently professor at Columbia University, Hansen is the man we owe  the findings on the greenhouse effect. He claims that the Agreement is not ambitious enough, and that the only effective way to solve the issue is by imposing 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”.

Lobbying forces have indeed played a role in shaping the Agreement. Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) denounced the presence of representatives of numerous corporations at the Conference. A strong limitation is that there is no obligation to stop polluting, so corporations can continue in their ‘business as usual’ mode as long as they compensate for their emissions. As Avaaz denounced, Benjamin Sporton, Myron Ebell, Marc Morano, Chris Horner, Bjorn Lomborg, Fiona Wild e James Taylor, are the names of infamous seven people who tried to stop the deal.

actionclimate650.jpgThe Agreement is deficient indeed. However, 195 countries by engaging in the Agreement made a step forward, showing that – hopefully – there may be a small light at the end of the tunnel. The Agreement is unsurprisingly weak, but sends the message that change must come about starting with a shift towards cleaner energy sources. Hard work must now continue. 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.”