Quantcast

Paris Climate Deal Will Be 'Legally Binding,' France Corrects Kerry

Climate

John Kerry's statement that the upcoming United Nations climate talks in Paris will result in no "legally binding" agreement on emissions reductions is being met with rebuffs on Thursday, including a retort that the U.S. Secretary of State must be "confused."

In an interview with the Financial Times Wednesday, Kerry said the outcome of the talks known as COP21 was "definitely not going to be a treaty" and would not include "legally binding reduction targets like Kyoto," referring to the 1997 Protocol that did call for such binding targets.

Banners from a Flood Wall Street climate protest on Sept. 28. Photo credit: Meg Hunter / Flickr

Kerry said later on Wednesday speaking at Old Dominion University that "we are seeking to reach an ambitious, durable and inclusive agreement at the UN climate conference next month in Paris. That’s our goal."

Kerry's French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, shot back at Kerry's take.

"Jurists will discuss the legal nature of an accord on whether it should be termed as a treaty or an international agreement," Reuters quotes Fabius as telling press.

"But the fact that a certain number of dispositions should have a practical effect and be legally binding is obvious so let's not confuse things, which is perhaps what Mr. Kerry has done," he said.

The EU made its position clear in September, stating that the bloc "is pressing for a global, fair, ambitious and legally binding international treaty that will prevent global warming from reaching dangerous levels."

EU’s Climate Commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete confirmed that position, the Guardian reported Thursday.

"The Paris agreement must be an international legally binding agreement," a spokeswoman for the commissioner told the publication. "The title of the agreement is yet to be decided but it will not affect its legally binding form."

French President Francois Hollande also responded to Kerry's comments, telling reporters in Malta on Thursday that "if the deal is not legally binding, there is no accord, because that would mean it's not possible to verify or control commitments that are made."

Hollande also issued a joint statement earlier this month with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, declaring their goal of working towards an "ambitious and legally binding agreement."

That's the hope, as what Greenpeace UK's Christine Ottery and Ruth Davis wrote Thursday, as it would offer "[n]ot a declaration or other empty promises, but something that legally binds nations and holds them to their commitment."

The urgency of reaching such an agreement was underscored in the Philippines this week, where 20,000 survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda capped off a week of climate actions ahead of the second anniversary of the historic storm.

Under the banner People Surge, the climate activists stated, "Now is the time to end the climate crisis. Let the world know—our survival is non-negotiable."

Marissa Cabaljao, secretary general of the People Surge Alliance of Disaster Survivors, stated that, like the group's demand to the Aquino administration, "Our call for justice goes the same for the world leaders meeting at Paris this December—we demand reparations from the top polluters to all victims of the global climate crisis and we join the call for a binding international climate agreement that will uphold people’s rights instead of ensuring the profits of big polluters."

Yet many climate campaigners have expressed little hope that the talks will result in anything but failure for the planet, citing the talk's corporate sponsors, the exclusion of "critical voices" and the fact that it "appear[s] to be rooted in the false premise that we have plenty of time."

But some say there's still hope to be found. Brian Tokar wrote at Common Dreams this week: "We have a long way to go and not much time, but if anything can help raise our hopes that it’s not too late, it is the power of social movements to intervene to change the story."

Some groups are hoping to show the power of such movements by convening outside the Paris talks to stage what they hope will be "the largest mass civil disobedience climate justice action that we have ever seen in Europe."

"The Paris moment will be defined not by what happens in the negotiating halls, but in the streets of Paris and around the world," a statement by 350.org reads. "Politicians aren’t the only ones with power. If enough people agree that it’s time for the world to move in a new direction and push together, the world will begin to move."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

John Kerry: ‘Climate Change Is Not Just About Bambi,’ It Threatens All of Humanity

What is COP21? Find Out in This 2 Minute Video

World Bank Climate Envoy Delivers Powerful Message on Coming Low-Carbon Revolution

How COP21 Will Unleash Massive Global Renewable Energy Growth

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

"It would be great to see all the candidates join Elizabeth Warren in taking the No Big Ag Money Pledge," said Citizens Regeneration Lobby's Alexis Baden-Mayer. Peter Blanchard / Flickr / ric (CC BY 2.0)

By Andrea Germanos

Food system justice and environmental advocates on Wednesday urged all Democratic presidential hopefuls to follow in the footsteps of Sen. Elizabeth Warren in signing a pledge rejecting campaign cash from food and agribusiness corporations.

Read More
A new study shows the impact Native Americans had on landscapes was "small" compared to what followed by Europeans. The findings provide important takeaway for conservation in New England today, seen above in a view of areas surrounding Rangeley Lakes in Maine. Cappi Thompson / Moment / Getty Images

There's a theory going around that Native Americans actively managed the land the lived on, using controlled burns to clear forests. It turns out that theory is wrong. New research shows that Native Americans barely altered the landscape at all. It was the Europeans who did that, as ZME Science reported.

Read More
Sponsored
Loggers operate in an area of lodgepole pine trees killed by the mountain pine beetle in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest on Sept. 13, 2019 in Montana. As climate change makes summers hotter and drier in the Northern Rockies, forests are threatened with increasing wildfire activity, deadly pathogens and insect infestations, including the mountain pine beetle outbreak. The insects have killed more than six million acres of forest across Montana since 2000. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Donald Trump told a crowd at the Davos World Economic Forum Tuesday that the U.S. will join the Forum's 1t.org initiative to restore and conserve one trillion trees around the world, according to The Hill.

Read More
Wild rice flatbread is one of many Native recipes found in Indigikitchen. Indigikitchen

The online cooking show Indigikitchen is providing a platform to help disseminate Indigenous food recipes — while helping eaters recognize their impact on the planet and Native communities.

Read More

On the Solomon Islands, rats and poachers are the two major threats to critically endangered sea turtles. A group of local women have joined forces to help save the animals from extinction.

Read More