Monday 4 January 2016

Paris in retrospect: Justice listened to but not implemented

By Jacob Wieser, DKA

The Conference of Parties Number 21 (COP21) is over. A new global climate agreement has been adopted on Saturday 12 December 2015 - slightly later than expected. The past years have seen tough negotiations, now all governments of the world buy into it. Even the US and Saudi Arabia, who were referred to as blockers.

The global community aims to halt the global temperature rise until the end of the century well below 2 °C and strives for 1.5 which is vital for the survival of millions of coast dwellers. The states acknowledge their mutual moral duty. This is a victory. But the agreement is void of any mechanism for assuring this responsibility. No coercion, no enforcement. Periodic reviews are set to start in 2018. The sum of the national contributions to curb this crisis will lead to a temperature rise of 2.7 degrees or even more.

Nothing achieved, no perspective?

The agreement itself is a very week one. But it provides a starting point to raise the ambition. This will be possible when we continue to make our voice heard. And that happened in Paris loudly and successfully.

Massive mobilisation of hundred thousand people for climate justice, clear statements by Pope Francis and much more in the past two years made it possible that the 1.5 degree target has been acknowledged, all governments wanted to get a deal and that we finally were given hope that we’ll see the end of the era of fossil fuels.

The latest mobilisation on 12 December (#d12) marks a special victory for civil society. Most likely, we couldn’t raise the ambition of the negotiators in the end. Yet, we celebrated a victory of the freedom of speech and assembly and showed our unity for justice.

The state of emergency denies public manifestations. It is said that the French government wasn’t unhappy about that with regards to the climate summit.
In the end, all demonstrations were allowed to take place; or had to be allowed. A broad alliance of hundred organisations worked for #d12 for over a year. Confronted with a weak outcome at the climate summit and the risk of having several scattered demonstrations on #d12 in Paris, the French administration had to admit that people want to be on the streets. The voices for climate justice could be heard in the center of Paris while the official negotiations came to an end.

Peasants‘ organisations, inhabitants of large forests and river basins, women’s movements, members of environmental and development organisations, alliances of different faith groups, lobby groups for cycling and many more – colourful, loud, committed: for three hours we marched through the city towards the Eiffel Tower with one message: we are united for climate justice. COP21 maybe a mile stone, but we continue walking.

My tentative resume: the Paris agreement is a fact but we do not have to accept such deals in the future – another world is possible!

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