Paris climate negotiations

 

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[Please scroll down for our media work and commentary on the negotiations]

 

The Paris climate talks are over. The good news is that we have a deal. In the words of commentator George Monbiot, “By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster”.

Response from FoE UK.

Response from FoE International.

Check the photos from our community mobilisation on the last day of the conference: 3,000 people spelt out the words 'Climate Justice. Peace' on the streets of Paris.

Finally, after weeks of negotiations and deals, hundreds of actions and parallel events, and massive protests, the climate change negotiations in Paris are finally over.

The good news is that we have a deal. The key points of the agreement are outlined here.

The global climate change conference adopted an international accord on Sunday, which aims to transform the world's fossil fuel-driven economy within decades and slow the pace of global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

Is it a good deal?

IS_THIS_A_GOOD_DEAL.jpgObviously, this depends on who you ask:

Federal environment minister Greg Hunt says it is "arguably the most important environmental agreement ever".

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the agreement is “an extraordinary achievement”.

Some green groups have already described it as being the 'beginning of the end' of coal.

The ACF says the agreement “creates a pathway towards a safer climate for all life on Earth” but note that “what’s most important is what leaders do when they get home”.

Meanwhile the Minerals Council of Australia said it “cements the pathway for the continued use of coal” as 'low emissions' coal technology is developed (yeah, right).

WWF said “Paris marks the end of the fossil fuel age, and the acceleration of the renewable energy revolution which is already well advanced, sending a clear long-term signal to business and investors”.

Bill McKibben, Co-founder of 350.org:

The power of the fossil fuel industry is reflected in the text, which drags out the transition so far that endless climate damage will be done. Since pace is the crucial question now, activists must redouble our efforts to weaken that industry”.

Some scientists have warned that the cap on warming, and the deal’s timetable for phasing in greenhouse gas reductions, may yet fail to avert catastrophic climate change.

People_power_now.jpgA range of indigenous groups have condemned the outcome. For instance, Indigenous representatives attending the COP said “the agreement as it stands undermines the sovereignty of Indigenous Peoples globally and pushes forward false solutions to the climate crisis such as REDD, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation”.

International development organisation ActionAid described the outcome as 'disappointing', but said the Paris agreement “provides an important hook on which people can hang their demands”.

For a perspective from groups from the Global South (developing world) please check this press conference which happened in Paris in response to the outcome.

What's good

The good news is that, for the first time, the world is united in an agreement that will see countries enter a process to continually strengthen the pollution limits they set over time. It has set up a useful framework that will allow countries to work towards avoiding dangerous climate change. Further progress will be needed at subsequent UN meetings to strengthen the framework, and provide much stronger support for developing countries.

Importantly it has a reference to limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C.

Australia played a relatively constructive role at the negotiations, and helped provide impetus for ambition early in the negotiations by supporting the call from small island states to include reference to the 1.5 degrees target in the text. In the final days Australia joined more than 100 countries in the “High Ambition Coalition”, calling for an ambitious deal.

FoE's response

RED_LINE_ACTION.pngWe concur with UK writer George Monbiot, who wrote “By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster.

Craig Bennett from FoE UK said that while the actual agreement failed to match the rhetoric from world leaders when they were in Paris at the start of the negotiations, “it was still a historic moment. This summit clearly shows that fossil fuels have had their day.”

Despite the historic significance of almost 200 countries agreeing to act on climate change, Friends of the Earth International cannot celebrate the outcome – because it failed the science and the most vulnerable communities on the planet.

We feel that there are three major problems with the Paris agreement:

- The Paris deal states that 2 C is the maximum acceptable global temperature increase, and that countries should pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C. This is meaningless without requiring rich countries to cut their emissions drastically and provide finance in line with their fair share, and places the extra burden on developing countries. To avoid runaway climate we need to urgently and drastically cut emissions, not put it off to the future.

- Without compensation for irreparable damage to economies and landscapes through climate change, the most vulnerable countries will be left to pick up the pieces and foot the bill for a crisis they didn’t create.

- Without adequate finance, poor countries will now be expected to foot the bill for a crisis they didn’t cause. The finance exists. The political will does not. Commitments of financing for the green climate fund were not sufficient to the scale of the problem and Australia has pilfered from the existing foreign aid budget to meet its promised contribution.

CIVIL_SOCIETY_PRESS_CONFRENCE.pngOver the last two weeks Friends of the Earth International has lobbied on the inside, organised actions, initiated direct actions on the inside of the talks and on the streets of Paris.

There were bans on large scale events because of the recent terror attacks on Paris. We got around this in various ways, including a 'human chain' action at the start of the conference, and the closing 'geo location' action on the weekend. This brought 3,000 of our activists onto the streets of Paris to spell out the words Climate Justice and Climate. There are great photos from the action here and a lovely short video which shows how it was co-ordinated.

The FoE response to the talks is available here.

What's next?

Australia must do a number of things if our commitments are to be meaningful. A short list would include:

  • committing to stronger targets. At this point, Australia has committed to reducing emissions by between 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030. Australia needs to cut its emissions by between 60 and 70% by 2030 if we are to play a fair share in achieving global reductions

  • maintaining federal funding for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and Arena in order to drive continued investment in renewables

  • ending fossil fuel subsidies 

  • committing to not allow or approve any new coal mines (the federal environment minister Greg Hunt has already ruled this out, saying 'the market' should decide things like the export of coal)

  • Australia should get serious about energy efficiency – a job rich way to reduce our greenhouse pollution.

Next year's federal election is an opportunity to put these issues on the table in a meaningful way.

WALHI_ACTION.jpgWe are also disturbed to hear reports that the Turnbull government will “probably” allow emission reduction permits to be bought from overseas. We believe that Australia should do it's 'heavy lifting' at home, and not attempt to reduce emissions through overseas off set programs. The large scale programs developed to date have failed to deliver long term reductions and have caused their own environmental and social problems. For instance, read about the offset program that Australia supported in Kalimantan here. This may require a campaign response from the Australian climate movement.

 Report back from Paris

URSULA_RAKOVA.jpgUrsula Rakova, the director of Tulele Peisa, responsible for relocating Carteret Island families forced to move to Bougainville because of climate change, has gained international recognition for her work.

Ursula is passing through Brisbane en route back to Papua New Guinea, and will share stories of her experience at the UNFCCC COP21 Paris climate change negotiations, and an update on the relocation program.

Thursday 17 December, 5pm, Justice Place, 5 Abingdon St, Woolloongabba

Hosted by Climate Frontlines, Friends of the Earth Brisbane. Details: wendy.flannery@foe.org.au

Planetary emergency - a global problem needs a co-ordinated solution.

Curtis_Island2.jpgThe world's leading scientists have given stark warnings about the planetary emergency we're facing: the impacts of climate change are here, and will get worse unless we take immediate and concerted global action.

You don't have to be a scientist to see the impacts of climate change.

We are heading for a catastrophic temperature rise of at least 4 degrees Celsius unless we do something to change it.

The climate change negotiations that will happen in Paris in late 2015 need to decide on the global framework that will guide emission reduction efforts in coming years.

The UN says of the Paris meeting:

“the aim is to reach, for the first time, a universal, legally binding agreement that will enable us to combat climate change effectively and boost the transition towards resilient, low-carbon societies and economies”.

It is essential that we get a workable, binding deal that addresses the human rights dimension of climate change.

A fair, global climate deal

GLOBAL_CLIMATE_DEAL.jpgScience tells us there is a limit to how much pollution we can emit from activities like burning fossil fuels and clearing forests, before we breach the limits of the climate system.

To avoid dangerous climate change, we will need to live within the available carbon budget. Rich countries with high consumption lifestyles, like Australia, have already used a lot of the available budget. In effect, we are borrowing from the space that is needed by developing nations. This is called a carbon debt. It also means that the rich countries, who have created much of the climate change we are already starting to experience, need to act first and decisively in reducing their emissions.

After offering a lower target, Australia has now committed to a target of 26 - 28% reduction against 2005 levels by 2030.

However, Australia has become a climate change "free-rider", dropping off the list of nations taking "credible" action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, according to a panel led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Friends of the Earth is campaigning for a fair global climate deal at Paris.

What does that mean? It means rich countries:

  1. cutting their emissions faster

  2. helping developing countries to change over to clean energy.

How much action does each country need to take to stop catastrophic climate change? Find out on our Climate Fair Shares website.

At present the Australian government has a woeful 5% emissions reductions target, and is yet to announce what commitment it will take to the Paris climate change negotiations late in 2015. The independent Climate Change Authority has recommended that Australia adopt a target to cut greenhouse gases by 30 per cent by 2025, compared with year 2000 levels, but Environment Minister Greg Hunt says this would be an 'onerous' goal.

Yet Australia needs to cut its emissions by between 60 and 70% by 2030 if we are to play a fair share in achieving global reductions. 

We must do more

Governments are not acting fast enough. We must unite nationally, regionally and globally to pressure them to act.

Friends of the Earth is working to help build a global climate campaign. Through our international network, we are pushing for:

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Here in Australia, the federal government must do it’s bit and show leadership by setting science-based targets to decarbonise our economy.

This means:

  • putting climate action at the core of it’s approach to managing the economy, with a program to transform the economy to one based on zero net greenhouse emissions, and focusing on job rich industries like public transport, energy efficiency and the roll out of renewable energy

  • setting targets to ensure Australia generates 100% of its energy production from renewable energy sources by 2030

  • phasing out 100% of greenhouse emissions from power stations by 2030 and reducing emissions overall by between 60 and 70%

  • developing a plan to shut down dirty, coal fired power stations and transition the workforce into new sectors, and

  • keeping the vast majority of our fossil fuel reserves in the ground. This means no coal or gas exports.

  • we should not be out-sourcing our emissions reductions efforts by investing in carbon offset programs outside Australia.

What target commitments should Australia take to Paris?

Australia needs to cut its emissions by between 60 and 70% by 2030 if we are to play a fair share in achieving global reductions.

Check here for our submission to the federal government on targets.

Check here for our response to the targets announced by the government in August.

A group of 51 envirionment, aid, legal, health, union, farming, social services and religious sectors have written to all federal MPs, calling on them to ensure Australia adopts deep emissions targets in the build-up to the Paris meeting. You can find the letter here.

To keep up to date with our international climate campaign, you can:

 

Paris negotiations

Paris_chain_Nov_201.jpgFriends of the Earth will be in Paris in December.

Hundreds of activists from local FoE groups will converge from across Europe and beyond, to make their voices heard during the United Nations climate summit. There will be activities – protests, demonstrations, workshops and more – throughout the two weeks of the summit, 30 November to 12 December.

The ban on large rallies and mobilisations has meant that we have changed some of our plans. The day before the talks started, we joined with many organisations to hold a 'human chain' action in Paris.

Further information here.

Our affiliate Clim Acts has a strong team of 'climate angels' in Paris, who are involved in a range of public events.

Our media releases

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DEC 5: Paris talks, end of week 1. Three documents, little progress.

DEC 1: FoE Response to the opening session of the COP (which featured speeches from world leaders).

There will be regular updates from our team in Paris. Available here.

 

Bonn climate talks point to a weak Paris deal (October 2015)

http://www.foe.org.au/articles/2015-10-26/bonn-climate-talks-point-weak-paris-deal

Government post 2020 climate target puts Australians at risk (August 2015)

http://www.foe.org.au/articles/2015-08-11/government-post-2020-climate-t...

 

 

 

Take action

peoples_climate_march_Nov_2015.pngThe People's Climate March

In the last weekend of November, will you help create the biggest climate march the world has ever seen?

On the eve of world leaders meeting in Paris for the United Nations climate summit, we will gather in Australian cities and walk alongside millions of people in hundreds of major cities around the world.

Join hundreds of thousands of Australians as we march for a transition to renewable energy, for secure job creation, for clean air, for a healthy environment and a safe climate.

You can find further details, and the location of your nearest march here.

If you're in Melbourne, please feel free to walk with us.

 

coalchain-germany_for_box.jpgFoE has launched it's online campaign for Paris. The Energy Revolution has three key demands:

  • Ensure justice for people affected by climate change.
  • Stop fossil fuels and other dirty energy, while protecting workers in these areas.
  • Support community-owned renewable energy – giving people the power, not corporations.

You can sign on here.

Further information and resources

FoE's Good Energy/ Bad Energy website.