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The Paris climate summit (COP21) set out to achieve two goals this year - to increase the ambition of the Pre-2020 (also part of the Kyoto Protocol); and to create climate action applicable to all countries between 2020 and 2030. The agreements that have been reached are for countries to limit their emissions to 2 °C and to help finance poor nations in cutting emissions and coping with the effects of extreme weather. Real World Radio has interviewed Asad Rehman from Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland to discuss his take on the COP21 and what it means for future climate action.
The COP21 has fallen short of their goals, in terms of delivering a strong agreement to combat climate change and to agree to keep global warming below the 1.5 °C threshold recommended by climate scientists. According to Rehman, there is no clear pathway or a scale of ambition needed by rich countries to finance climate change mitigation and adaptation. Moreover, the term ‘climate finance’ is misleading. Money from private sources are also considered a part of climate finance, where rich countries that are responsible for the climate crisis can lend money to poorer countries, who must then pay back this money with interest - a clear injustice of rich countries profiting off of problems that they are the cause of.
Among the guiltiest countries, the United States is the main driver of protecting their own agenda and showing little accountability for climate action. According to Rehman, rather than the fight against climate change being a ‘common good’ that everyone can agree on, the U.S. has disagreed with the notion that the multilateral agreements should be legally binding, and instead supported a relaxed, non science-based approach towards addressing the needs of the people and the environment. The U.S. entered the climate negotiations with a mandate of their largest multinational corporations to keep intellectual property rights out of the discussions, meaning that their renewable energy technologies that are meant to be shared with the public to build green alternatives will not be shared but sold for profit.
While the European Union has positioned themselves as the climate champions, they did little to challenge the U.S. and have instead accommodated their demands. Furthermore, despite the EU reaching its target of having 20% emission reduction by 2020 last year and expecting to reach 30% without any additional effort by 2020, the EU refused to increase its target in line with real terms for 2030. This means that in real terms between now and 2030, the EU is only contributing to 7% emission reduction.
Rehman concludes that yes, an agreement has been made this year but the fight is not over. The fight will continue for those trying to escape responsibility and those that are dealing with the impacts and need help. He calls for justice in the face of climate change - the world’s largest inequality - and highlights the aim of not only reducing global emissions but creating an inclusive world that prioritises equality, health, and safety. The only way this fight can be won is through people, power, and action.
Imagen: Friends of the Earth
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