A little too little, but not too late at #COP21
Word from the #COP21 talks is that we’re on-pace for a final agreement by Friday, but what kind of agreement is still very much in doubt. The key items under dispute remain the same:
- Should the temperature ‘Goal’ — essentially the upper limit of global warming we, as a planet, are prepared to accept — be set at 2C or 1.5C? Many low lying island nations would be completely devastated by the effects of a 2C warming.
- Will the US and other nation’s in the global north make a meaningful commitment to helping the global south and ‘developing’ countries leap-frog the coal and car age and go straight to clean energy and energy democracy? Or will they sell those countries short, leaving large parts of Africa, Central and South America with the impossible task of adapting to the worst impacts of global warming and attempting to build an economy that works for their people without using fossil fuels.
- How serious are the parties, especially big fossil fuel exporters like the U.S., about leaving fossil fuels in the ground? Will they end subsidies for fossil fuels and cancel projects like the Keystone XL oil pipelines (check)? Or wil they instead pass legislation to continue subsidizing dirty fuels and export oil, gas and coal (as our Congress is proposing right this moment).
Meanwhile, Senator Ted Cruz is planning a hearing today on whether climate change is “Data or Dogma.” Cruz would get laughed out of the Paris climate talks, but he’s also a serious contender for President – which is itself incredibly disturbing. And it casts a long shadow over the talks here that senior members of our government (Cruz chairs a Senate Subcommittee) are still denying the science and refusing to act on climate.
Whatever deal is produced here in Paris, it won’t be the end of our fight. In fact it will just be a small stop on the way to the progress we need to keep 80% of fossil fuels in the ground and finance a just transition to 100% clean energy by 2050. This climate treaty will, at best, show us the status of what we’ve been able to demand from world governments. It won’t be nearly enough to stop climate change – yet. But it’s possible that if we can get an agreement this week, not any agreement at all, but one that sets an ambitious target, and gives us the framework and transparency to come back again and again and demand more … it might just be enough for us to declare victory and go home to the U.S. with an incredible plan for further action.
That’s what I’m looking forward too, anyway.