After much anticipation the Paris climate negotiations, or COP21, are finally upon us. It is no exaggeration to say that governments, businesses, charities and faith communities have been working towards this point for years. Failure to secure a meaningful agreement on climate change in Copenhagen in 2009 made many decide to work differently, building political will from the ground up.
Much good work on communicating the urgency of the climate challenge has already been done, from Ban Ki-Moon’s Climate Summit in New York in September 2014 to Pope Francis Encyclical, Laudato Si’. This process will reach its zenith over the next two weeks in Paris. CAFOD, together with sister Catholic development agencies, is now attending the negotiations in Paris to represent the experience of our partners on the ground, advocating for a deal that protects the world’s most vulnerable people. Paris needs to demonstrate the international community working together at its best, delivering a binding agreement which can be assessed and strengthened every few years and ultimately delivers a shift away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy that protects the planet and provides energy for everyone, including the poorest.
Climate change and poverty
Without a deal on cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the job of tackling poverty will become even harder. In every country, in every community where our partners work, we hear the same thing: a changing climate is making life harder for the people who are often already the most vulnerable, and have no financial or social safety nets in place to support them when disasters or changing climatic conditions put their ability to cope under even further strain. These people have done the least to cause climate change but are being hit the hardest but its impacts. (See our report: Climate Change and Vulnerability: Pushing People over the Edge)
What does CAFOD want from Paris?
Support for poorer countries. This transition will not be easy and many countries do not have the financial or technical capacity to make it on their own. The ecological debt, as Pope Francis calls it, owed by those countries who developed first using dirty fossil fuels must be factored into the negotiations. Developed countries have promised climate finance of $100 billion per year by 2020. This is of course welcome but more needs to be done to offer certainty that meaningful financial and other support will be there up to and beyond 2020 for those most vulnerable countries. More clarity must be given on long term climate finance, including new sources of finance going forward.
A week and a half to go…