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UNDERSTANDING THE CLIMATE NEGOTIATIONS COP 21 PDF Print E-mail

By:  Marijke Colle

This article was used by Marijke Colle in her lecture on the Marxism and Ecology during the 7th Asian Global Justice School on July 15, 2015 in Quezon City, Philippines.


This end of the year, from the 30th of November until the 11th of December, the 21st meeting of the “Conference of Parties” (COP) will take place in Paris, France.

What is the history of these negotiations?

The UNFCCC = United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is the main treaty on climate.It recognizes the human origin of the current climate change and the main historical responsibility for it by the industrialised rich nations in the past.This convention was adopted during the Rio de Janeiro summit in May 1992 and was activated on the 21st of March 1994 after ratification by 195 states (and also by the EU).

The COP (conference of Parties) is the main body of this convention, and it meets every year to take decisions in order to respect the aim of the fight against climate change. In those meetings, all decisions have to be reached by a unanimous vote!

COP 21 will take place at Le Bourget, near Paris and about 40,000+ participants are expected: delegations from civil society – NGO’s working on climate change, private companies, scientists, local authorities, indigenous people delegates, as well as the official government representatives. The media will also be present in big numbers.

What has been achieved in the framework before this Paris summit?

COP 3 adopted the famous Kyoto protocol, the first international treaty whose aim was to lower emissions of greenhouse gasses. Kyoto was signed in 1997 and became active only in 2005 after its ratification by 55 industrialised countries representing in 1990, 50% of global CO2 emissions.

The protocol aimed at a reduction by at least 5% of the emissions of six greenhouse gasses (in comparison with 1990) between 2008 and 2012. The EU realised this objective. The USA never signed the Kyoto protocol. Canada and Russia withdrew their signature later from the protocol. China, as an emerging economy was not concerned at the time of the adoption of the Kyoto protocol but it is now the biggest emitter on a global scale. Today, Kyoto is obsolete and it ends automatically in 2020.

The Kyoto protocol should be replaced by a new treaty and this is the explicit aim of COP 21.

During COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009a renegotiation started for a new treaty replacing Kyoto and including this time the developing world also. After two years of preparatory negotiations, the COP 15 summit was a complete failure. The “agreement” on the necessity to limit global warming at 2C was not accompanied by concrete figures for the effective reduction of emissions.

Full information on the history of the 20 previous COP meetings can be found on Wikipedia.

What are now the COP 21 objectives?

To reach a universal agreement applicable in 2020 by all 195 countries to limit the temperature rise to 2C. According to the IPCC, the earth’s surface temperature has already risen since 1880 by 0.85 C and will certainly increase with between 0.3 and 4.8C in 2100 depending on the amount of emissions.

Earth should be carbon neutral by 2100

The accumulated emissions must not be larger than 800 Giga-tonnes and starting in 1870, we have already released 531Gt. What is left, are only 270 Gt!

In preparation of COP 21, each country must publish its objectives concerning the emissions by October 2015.

The EU pledges to cut emissions by 40% in 2030 (in comparison with its emissions in 1990). The USA promises to cut emissions by 26-28% in 2025 in comparison with 2005.

The second objective of COP 21 concerns the promise of help for developing countries in order to be able to fight against climate change. COP 15 in Copenhagen promised a fund of 100 billion dollars in 2020. By June of this year, 2015, only 10.2 billion were promised by 30 countries of which only 4 billion dollar were really transferred!

Obstacles to an efficient plan against climate change

- The differentiated responsibilities and in consequence the different constraints imposed on developing and industrialised countries. This concept is now considered as obsolete by the industrialised countries.

-  The choice of methods to follow up the implementation of the reduction promises

- The failure or difficulties to convince climate-sceptics (governments, conservative political parties in power…)

What has been going on this year in preparation of COP 21?

Last June, a meeting was organised in Bonn to discuss how to effectively respect the 2C limit but until that month, only 38 countries had published their objectives.

The EU is the third biggest polluter and promises a reduction of emissions of 40% in 2030 (in comparison with 1990) and a reduction by 80% in 2050. Switzerland promises to reduce its emissions by half (50%) in 2030.

No plans have yet been published by China, Brazil and Australia.

How is COP being organised?

 After this preparatory meeting in June, there will be two more preparatory meetings to enhance the success, one from the 31st of August until the 4th of September and the last one on the 23rd of October, both are organised in Bonn (Germany).

The total budget for COP 21 is estimated at 187 million euros and the French government has asked private companies for financial support…
 

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Marijke Colle
was a Former Executive Director of IIRE Amsterdam.  She is of a Belgian origin living in France. She was a biology teacher and a feminist activist from the 1970s up to the present. As a feminist, she had a leading role in the fight for contraception and abortion rights in Belgium. She is also active in anti-nuclear movement.  Currently, she is writing more and more on ecology and eco-feminism.

She has written several articles on eco-socialism in English; and is a regular contributor of a Weekly Ecological Magazine in Belgium.

 

 

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