Quantcast

Will Paris Agreement Save Us From Climate Chaos?

Climate

The Paris climate agreement is heartening and historic—195 countries finally concurred that we must stop warming the planet by no more than 2C by 2020 and that we should be aiming for 1.5C. Unfortunately, the actual plans submitted by each government prior to the conference would raise the world's temperature by as much as 3C.

Stated clearly: The words of the agreement say one thing, but we must monitor the actions of leaders and nations so that they actually implement the aims of the agreement. And, we cannot count on governments for all the solutions needed.

Civil Society demonstrators believe the COP21 agreement would heat the Earth with more than 3 degrees C temperature increase. Photo credit: Global Greengrants Fund

In parts of Africa the temperature is already over this limit by as much as 7 degrees. Further, for every centigrade rise in sea level, scientists predict that more than one million people will die. In my travels for Global Greengrants Fund, I have found that the best solutions are coming from the ground up, not from the top down. Communities most affected, grassroots groups and movements are adapting and showing the way for transformative system change.

That's why I participated in many events outside the COP—at the Climate Action Zone—and in the movement-based protests, both the Red Lines gathering near the Arc de Triumph on Saturday organized by the Climat21 Coalition and the Basque/French Alternatiba manifestation at the Eiffel tower later in the day. It has taken mass mobilizations over the last few years to push our elected leaders into this agreement and now it's going to take even more mass mobilizations to push them to actually meet the terms of the agreement and then farther to address issues the agreement ignored.

Terry Odendahl (red sweatshirt) with colleagues at the "Red Line" march in Paris. Photo credit: Global Greengrants Fund

For example:

  • The preamble to the agreement suggests that governments "should consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants ... as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity." But, there is nothing in the actual binding part of the agreement to ensure that any of these obligations are addressed.
  • There's no mention of “food security" anywhere in the preamble or the binding part of the agreement.
  • The agreement contains only limited acknowledgement of the responsibilities of the most highly polluting countries to those in the global south and furthest north which did not create the climate disaster.
  • The agreement continues to support false solutions such as carbon markets that allow polluters to pay or trade "credits" with those who are actually stewarding their farms and forests.
  • The agreement contains no mention of the need to stop using fossil fuels and turn to alternative energy sources. This omission is simply ridiculous greenwashing. We must immediately keep the oil in the soil and the coal in the hole or the planet will continue cooking.

A few days before the demonstrations, I attended a civil disobedience training offered by 350.org at the Climate Action Zone. Three principles agreed upon by all the groups in Climat21 were that the actions would be peaceful, there would be no property damage and police would not be provoked. Because of the state of emergency in Paris, it was illegal to gather in groups of more than two with political intent or messages. At the final hour, an accord was reached with police and the protests were allowed. Thus, my decision to get arrested, worries about not being able to return to France or even Europe, were happily moot. The march was amazing as a spirit of solidarity and continuing work to promote real solutions prevailed.

Paris was a good start, although perhaps 20 years too late. The next step will be even harder and will require even more of us stepping into the streets to push our leaders forward.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

What the Paris Climate Agreement Means for Indigenous Rights and Hydroelectric Dams

The End of Fossil Fuels is Near

Carl Pope: Paris Agreement 'Greatest Single Victory Since Emergence of Modern Environmental Movement'

12 Key Takeaways From the Paris Climate Talks

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Justin Trudeau delivers remarks during an election rally in Markham, Ontario, Canada, on Sept. 15. Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. / NurPhoto via Getty Images

By Chloe Farand for Climate Home News

Canadians are voting on Monday in an election observers say will define the country's climate future.

Read More Show Less
Activists Greta Thunberg (2ndL), Iris Duquesne(C), and Alexandria Villaseñor (3rd R) attend a press conference where 16 children present their official human rights complaint on the climate crisis to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child at the UNICEF Building on Sept. 23 in NYC. KENA BETANCUR / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Taft

Fifteen kids from a dozen countries, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, recently brought a formal complaint to the United Nations. They're arguing that climate change violates children's rights as guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a global agreement.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on could fall heavily on the public.
Susan Vineyard / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Justin Mikulka

Increasingly, U.S. shale firms appear unable to pay back investors for the money borrowed to fuel the last decade of the fracking boom. In a similar vein, those companies also seem poised to stiff the public on cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on.

Read More Show Less
Blue tarps given out by FEMA cover several roofs two years after Hurricane Maria affected the island in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 18. RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP / Getty Images

Top officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed to lawmakers last week that they knowingly — and illegally — stalled hurricane aid to Puerto Rico.

Read More Show Less
Actress Jane Fonda (C) and actor Sam Waterston (L) participate in a protest in front of the U.S. Capitol during a "Fire Drill Fridays" climate change protest and rally on Capitol Hill, Oct. 18. Mark Wilson / Getty Images News

It appears Jane Fonda is good for her word. The actress and political activist said she would hold demonstrations on Capitol Hill every Friday through January to demand action on the climate crisis. Sure enough, Fonda was arrested for demonstrating a second Friday in a row Oct. 18, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Only this time, her Grace and Frankie co-star Sam Waterston joined her.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Visitors look at the Aletsch glacier above Bettmeralp, in the Swiss Alps, on Oct. 1. The mighty Aletsch — the largest glacier in the Alps — could completely disappear by the end of this century if nothing is done to rein in climate change, a study showed on Sept. 12. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

Switzerland's two Green parties made historic gains in the country's parliamentary elections Sunday, according to projections based on preliminary results reported by The New York Times.

Read More Show Less
A mural in Richwood, West Virginia, a once booming Appalachia coal town, honors the community's history. Jeff Greenberg / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

The coal industry is dying. But we can't allow the communities that have been dependent on coal to die along with it.

Read More Show Less
ThitareeSarmkasat / iStock / Getty Images

by Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Every fruit lover has their go-to favorites. Bananas, apples, and melons are popular choices worldwide and can be purchased almost anywhere.

Read More Show Less