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Harsh Criticism of False Climate Solutions Overshadows COP22 Summit

  • The COP21 climate agreement reached last December in Paris entered into force Nov. 4, 2016.

    The COP21 climate agreement reached last December in Paris entered into force Nov. 4, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 7 November 2016

The Paris COP21 climate agreement entered into force earlier than expected, forcing world leaders to rush to write the rule book.

The world’s largest social movement blasted world leaders Monday for promoting “false solutions” to the global environmental crisis and disguising ongoing crimes against humanity as a commitment to climate action as the COP22 world climate meeting kicked off in Marrakech, Morocco, on the heels of last year’s Paris summit.

5 Ways the COP21 Deal Dooms the Planet to Climate Change Chaos

Ahead of the launch of the conference Monday, United Nations chief climate official Patricia Espinosa announced Sunday that 100 out of the U.N.’s 197 member nations have signed on to the COP21 climate agreement reached in Paris last December. Though world leaders heralded the deal — which entered into force last Friday — as a “historic” achievement for climate action, critics slammed it as a farce that failed to steer away from fossil fuels and locked the planet into a future of catastrophic global warming.

Espinosa expressed confidence that more countries will get on board the Paris agreement in coming days during the COP22 summit, which runs until Nov. 18, on route to the U.N. goal of “having every country on earth translating this global agreement to a legal commitment.” But many prominent environmental groups and leaders have argued that even if adopted by all countries, the most critical parts of the deal are not binding, while approval of massive free trade deals like the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership would directly undermine the commitments outlined in the Paris accords.

La Via Campesina, an international social movement representing some 200 million peasants and campesinos around the globe, argued in a statement Monday that the Paris climate agreement and other U.N.-promoted and market-based climate solutions “are underpinned with an approach that places the commercial and financial interests of multinational corporations and the world economy ahead of respect for human rights.”

COP21 Dooms Indigenous Communities to Climate Displacement

Similarly, Friends of the Earth, a leading environmental organization that rejected the Paris deal as a “sham” last December, argued that the response to climate change must shift toward a focus on equity and justice, together with an urgent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. “We’re only seeing more of the same,” Geoffrey Kamese, senior program officer of Friends of the Earth Uganda, said in a statement. “Old and indeed new dirty energy projects — oil, coal gas and big dams, fracking, even tar sands — continue to devastate communities.”

Meanwhile, the U.N. Refugee Agency has brought the issue of environmental refugees into the spotlight, a global challenge that is already a reality and will only continue to worsen with unchecked climate change. According to the organization, 21.8 million people have been displaced by sudden extreme weather around the world every year since 2008. Climate change and its impact on resources is also a factor in conflicts such as in Syria and Somalia, another major driver of migration. While the Paris agreement makes passing reference to migration, the COP22 discussions may prove pivotal in determining whether concrete actions are taken to address the growing global refugee crisis.

The Paris deal was widely celebrated for marking the first time all countries agreed to a binding document to reduce carbon emissions and commit to keeping global temperatures below irreversible and catastrophic warming of 2 degrees Celsius. However, emissions reductions targets are based on voluntary national pledges, failing to hold the biggest climate culprits accountable. It also doesn’t set legally binding agreements on climate finance or reparations, letting wealthy countries off the hook for funding a global transition to clean energy, as many environmental groups has advocated for. The deal doesn’t even mention the words “fossil fuels.”

Least Developed Countries Call for 'Ambitious Action' at COP22

The International Trade Union Confederation released a report ahead of COP22 arguing that the hotly disputed issue of climate finance is among the most burning issues to be resolved at the summit in the name of responding to the needs of those most vulnerable in the face of climate change. The international labor organization also called for “concrete emission reduction initiatives” and a “just transition for workers” in the process of shifting away from fossil fuels toward a carbon-zero economy.

As criticism swirls around the Paris deal, the two-week COP22 summit will focus on hammering out the rules to govern the implementation of the so-called “historic” accord, including how to measure and assess emissions reductions progress. The plans could prove crucial in determining whether the stated goal of keeping global warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius will be achievable.

The Paris deal wasn’t expected to enter into effect until 2020, but the threshold of countries ratifying it was hit last month, jump-starting the process. The COP22 now faces the challenge of urgently ironing out the details to make the swiftly-approved deal a reality.

And as 2016 is on-track to be the hottest year on record and vulnerable communities are already suffering the brunt of climate change with intensifying extreme weather, the clock is ticking.

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