COP21: Youth delegates find text of Paris Agreement ‘heavy with illusion of ambition’

But without reality of action
By @vitthernandez on
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Hundreds of environmentalists arrange their bodies to form a message of hope and peace in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, December 6, 2015, as the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) continues at Le Bourget near the French capital. Reuters/Benoit Tessier

Although the Paris Agreement needs to be adopted by individual governments, its acceptance by diplomats who gathered at the 2015 Climate Conference (COP21) has been hailed as “transformative.” The deal agreed to hold the rise in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Developed nations are expected to provide a funding of $100 billion (AUD$140 billion) a year to help developing countries switch to greener sources of energy from fossil fuels, reports NPR. It is a result of lobbying by small island-nations and green groups to place in the document the higher ambition goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius in recognition that “this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”

However, as expected, not everyone is happy with the deal. The New Zealand Youth Delegation (NZYD) says that the Paris Agreement “takes an inch forward, but miles more needed.” They note that while the two-week climate change talks were a chance for governments to accelerate the transition to a safe, clean energy future already underway, the agreement concluded on Saturday evening “failed to match the ambition being demonstrated by communities and businesses around the world and left observers asking for more.”

The group acknowledges the positive aspects of the deal, including the recognition of a safer 1.5 limit and the review mechanisms for monitoring and increasing countries’ climate ambition. They believe the “Paris Moment” was made possible with the work of the climate movement around the world - communities and businesses coming together to take the reins of leadership where governments would not, says NZYD spokesperson Ben Abraham.

“While we are encouraged that countries around the world have made progress it is still not enough. This text is heavy with the illusion of ambition without the reality of action,” Abraham says in a statement.

He points out that the farmers in Aotearoa would still cope with more severe droughts and residents of Tuvalu would still need to watch more of their homes sink beneath the waves as these are frontline communities bear the brunt of global inaction. NZYD maintains that New Zealand pulled the wool and pretended to support an ambitious agreement while blocking compensation for climate-impacted vulnerable communities and refusing to push for inclusion of human rights in the body of the agreement.

“This government will be judged harshly by history … As young New Zealanders we are disappointed that in this historic moment, our government has failed to adequately future proof New Zealand,” Abraham adds.

The 31-page plan would be deposited in the next few weeks at the UN headquarters in New York.  Beginning April 2016, ambassadors could sign the document on behalf of the countries. For the deal to be in force by Jan 1, 2020, at least 55 countries that represent 55 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions must have ratified the Paris Agreement, reports USA Today.

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