Climate deal lacks strategies critical to achieving promised results | What's Left

It's easy to be swept-up in the feeling of accomplishment the COP21 agreement promises, especially with the enthusiastic response of the media, politicians, and celebrities involved. Unfortunately, while it is a victory for so many countries to come together and unanimously agree that something should be done, this is not the first time such promises have been made.

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Much of the coverage has green-washed over this history of failure and this new agreement overrides many, better regional agreements that have stifled the energy sector and backwards-looking governments.

This will be a historic agreement only if it results in actual progress on climate change. However, looking at some of the details of the agreement, there are serious short-comings that activists should be aware of:

  • It is not legally binding in any way; - It does not contain enforceability provisions; - It does not include human rights protection language; - It contains industry-derived language that has baffled scientists including the goal to reach “greenhouse gas emissions neutrality”; - It has aspirational goals of limiting temperature increases to 1.5 decrees, but no concrete steps to get there; - It explicitly identifies “carbon capture and storage” technology which does not exist and will likely never exist on the scale needed; - According to scientists and economists, its math around investment doesn’t add up; - It demands the relaxation of regulations and trade rules on private sector investment; - It ignores the important role of publicly owned organizations.

Friends of the Earth International said the following of the deal: “After all the warm words of developed countries on a 1.5C limit, the new text contains no obligation to stay under this threshold. Shockingly, the text could allow for carbon emissions to continue until 2099.”

It seems as though the document was written by liberal governments working to appease highly conservative governments such as Saudi Arabia and India (the world’s largest emitter whose current government is opposed to the elimination of fossil fuels by 2100).

The document intentionally fails to provide the enforceable strategies needed to reach the goals it identifies. Such an approach is common, but to repeat that something needs to be done is not the same as doing it, and depending on for-profit corporations and market mechanisms is a recipe for disaster … literally.

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