For the first time in history, the governments of the world struck an agreement to act together on climate change. Last Saturday, the Paris Climate Agreement was signed by 195 countries committing to the end of the fossil fuel era with a long-term goal to bring emissions to zero and a regular review of national commitments every five years. (See more of the agreement here) This is a historic moment.
While we recognize this major shift in climate policy, we also acknowledge that the Paris Agreement has many problems that perpetuate climate injustice. Issues of climate finance for developing countries are not fully addressed. Language on human rights (read more here) was excluded. And it leaves out the practicalities of how our governments are going to reach their ambitious targets, given that their current climate plans are very far from what we urgently need. Read the full account here The Global Catholic Climate Movement
Following two weeks of negotiations during the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, the 195 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement on 12 December 2015 (full text available here
The Paris Agreement’s main aim is “Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels” (binding), and countries further agreed “to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.” (Article 2) The Agreement also includes the pledges to cut emissions and set the long-term goal to get off fossil fuels (although there is no clear timeline). Furthermore, the Agreement creates a 5-year Review Mechanism for countries to review their emissions reduction targets and set new, more ambitious cuts. However, there is no accountability mechanism for countries’ failure to comply to the Agreement.
Combating climate change and its impacts, which has important linkages with gender equality and human rights, is included in the SDGs (Goal 13). Unfortunately, despite strong efforts from women’s rights advocates, references to women’s and human rights were moved to non-binding parts in the final draft of the Paris Agreement. The weak references to gender include the following:
- “Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights . . . as well as gender equality, empowerment of women,” (Introduction)
- “Parties acknowledge that adaptation action should follow a country-driven, gender-responsive, participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems,”(Article 7)
- “Capacity-building . . . should be an effective, iterative process that is participatory, cross-cutting and gender-responsive,” (Article 11)
- Gender balance in the Committee established in the document to facilitate implementation and promote compliance (Article 15; see also paragraph 103 of decision)
Please see further articles and resources on COP21 and women working in climate justice:
Thanks to Joann Lee
Post-2015 Women’s Coalition
Center for Women’s Global Leadership
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Link to the text of the Agreement
The Paris climate conference closed on Saturday evening by adopting a strong, clear, and honest agreement. The deal will not guarantee that the world stays within 2°C or reaches the more ambitious 1.5°C limit, but it lays out for the first time a framework for getting there. Crucially it does so without denying the reality gap between actions to date and what’s needed to save the planet from dangerous climate change.
The Guardian story reads that the Climate Agreement is the world’s greatest diplomatic success. ‘Like any international compromise, it is not perfect: the caps on emissions are still too loose, likely to lead to warming of 2.7 to 3C above pre-industrial levels, breaching the 2C threshold that scientists say is the limit of safety, beyond which the effects – droughts, floods, heatwaves and sea level rises – are likely to become catastrophic and irreversible. Poor countries are also concerned that the money provided to them will not be nearly enough to protect them. Not all of the agreement is legally binding, so future governments of the signatory countries could yet renege on their commitments.’ Read more…
A story that show the power of a ‘word’ to make or break an agreement