On her return from the Climate Change Conference (COP 18) where she was representing GERES, our climate expert Vanessa Laubin gives us this report. The disappointment may have been particularly harsh, but this does not mean that civil society should give up the fight. Now more than ever, we all need to be aware of the climate emergency and mobilize accordingly.
“The United Nations Global Climate Change Conference (COP18) came to an end last Saturday on a particularly disappointing note given the acknowledgement of the climate emergency in several reports published prior to the COP and despite the repeated calls for help from the most vulnerable countries. Although the Qatari Deputy Prime Minister did indeed announce an agreement concerning a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol between 2013 and 2020, there are very few reasons to rejoice.
Following two weeks of laborious and particularly slow negotiations, neither Russia nor the United States accepted the text in its entirety, although it could hardly be described as ambitious. The second commitment period for Kyoto only includes a small group of industrialized countries (including the European Union and Australia), representing barely 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, the surplus emissions quotas from the first period, which clearly threaten the protocol’s flexibility mechanisms, were not annulled despite heated discussions, especially between Poland and the rest of the European Union.
When it comes to funding, there is still a long way to go three years after the Copenhagen decision aimed at raising $100 billion per year in climate funding by 2020. This lack of visibility is particularly problematic for vulnerable countries and profoundly weakens trust in international negotiations. The only ray of hope concerning countries’ ability to shoulder their responsibilities comes from the decision to conduct a work programme in 2013 addressing losses and damage with a view to establishing an institutional scheme between now and the next COP.
Finally, the debate on the inclusion of agriculture in climate negotiations was aborted in the first week of the Conference and deferred to early next year, given the lack of consensus on the issues to be tackled. GERES will continue over the next few months, in liaison with the Climate-Development Committee of Coordination SUD, to defend family farmers due to their crucial role in food security and the need to help them cope with the challenges of climate change.
All this means that the planet is now on course for global warming of more than 2°C, so it is vital to get to work immediately on gathering all parties together to reach an ambitious, politically sound agreement in 2015. This will be a key year, because this is when an agreement, due to come into force in 2020, is supposed to be finally validated. France has offered to host the summit in 2015 and will therefore have much to do alongside French civil society which needs to redouble its efforts.
A new, fair, climate deal must be designed which takes account of the new configuration of the world, where the distinction between industrialized and developing countries is no longer viable, and which supports the most vulnerable communities. Also, it is still complex today to anticipate the workings of climate mechanisms and the risk of runaway climate change but we know one thing for sure: poor communities will be the first victims. So, there is no doubt concerning the climate emergency.”