Activists pressure governments to deliver a climate change deal

By Mantoe Phakathi
*Africa Green Media
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By Mantoe Phakathi

As the climate talks are about to conclude, activists are putting pressure on ministers leading the negotiation process at Le Bourget, in the French capital, Paris, to deliver a great deal.

Civil society organisations are calling for a strong deal that would see the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius and funds to help poor countries adapt to climate change.

“For the COP 21 deal to be revolutionary, it needs to be evolutionary,” said climate justice activist from Christian Aid, Mohamed Adow.

Addressing a press conference a day before the much anticipated outcome from the 21st session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Adow said the deal should evolve with time as the world changes.

“There are things that are not tradable at all; loss and damage, climate finance and ambition mechanism,” said Adow.

If loss and damage were to be left behind, he said, countries severely impacted by climate change would lose out; lack of finance would deprive poor countries of the means to adapt. A lack of a mechanism to measure emissions reductions in the deal will leave the whole world behind, said Adow.

“We’ve heard many countries calling for 1.5 degrees Celsius – both the poorest, vulnerable countries and big developed countries. What the developed countries are not telling us is what they will do in order to reduce global warming to below 1.5 degree Celsius,” said Adow.

He said the agreement should have tools to measure progress because rich countries do not act unless the world is watching them.

Although the expectation from many people at the conference was that COP 21 was going to deliver a legally-binding deal, it is not that simple, said Alex Hanafi from the Environmental Defence Fund.

“The consensus last night was that this would be a legally-binding international agreement,” said Hanafi. “But it is likely that pieces of the agreement will rely more on domestic enforcement than on international legalities.”

He said this was not unusual because international agreements including the UNFCCC contain provisions that are binding and those that are not. The silver lining in this, said Hanafi, is that non-binding provisions commitments may lead countries to put forward stronger targets and have a wider participation in the agreement.

“Both of those criteria are critical in an effective international response to climate change. At the end of the day, the success of any international agreement, including the Paris Agreement, depends on binding domestic laws, policies and institutions that countries rely on to implement the goals that they put forward internationally,” said Hanafi.

The activists commended the French government for demonstrating effective leadership evident in the progress made at COP 21 where, on its last but one day of the conference, it is clear that countries are moving towards the right direction.

Alix Mazonunie, from Reseau Action Climat France, attributed this to the hard work of the French government, especially President François Hollande, who lobbied other leaders across the world. On Nov. 30, 150 world leaders descended to the conference venue, Le Bourget, to offer support for the process.