By all accounts the causes and consequences of the COVID-19 incident are causing disquiet, apathy and gloom among members of The Climate Change Coalition (a global coalition of over 1,000 stakeholders around the world who have acknowledged the importance of building an economy that is resilient to climate change)
Having no evidence that COVID-19 has led to irreversible increases in greenhouse gas emissions, it is time for each and every one of us to do what we can do to move our economies towards greener and more sustainable forms of development
As the sun sets on Copenhagen in November 2012, hundreds of thousands of climate campaigners descend on the Danish capital for the biggest international climate event of the decade. Visions of a future-proofed, community-sustainable future playing out on the world’s biggest political stage by 2030 emerge as a salutary reminder of where we can go to reach that goal. A sea of 350,000 T-shirts proves that the talk of climate action is not just talked; it is designed and refined. The lack of predictable, legally binding targets from delegates on the COP-18 sidelines later in the conference in December 2012 is overstated. Indeed, it is the clarity of that long-standing mandate for far reaching emission reductions that has left some policymakers questioning the staying power of the so-called climate justice process.
The Copenhagen Accord became the first international legally binding climate commitment: committed to putting a limit on global emissions and spelling out the commitment countries would make to meet that limit. However, from the outset, there was a problem. The limits set by the treaty would be inadequate to halt the progression of our rapidly changing climate. This is because our current global financial system has not reflected the risk of climate change. The developing world is pursuing an expansionist development agenda – at the expense of the livelihoods of other stakeholders. Land availability, water availability, food availability, improved health, energy security, and disease prevention and control – all are at risk. The effect of international financial policies has the double effect of increasing pollution and feeding the same behaviour pattern of harming the environment and the world’s people at the same time.
The Copenhagen Accord, on its face, should have been a housekeeping exercise in the continuing struggle to get a true and fair deal to limit global warming to below 2C and hold warming to 1.5C, but unfortunately due to natural political twists and turns, it is now in limbo.
As you read this statement it’s significant that the messages of protecting vulnerable countries from the worst impacts of climate change are being delivered by women and youth. The international climate conference in Poland is a critical moment in the process of getting the necessary national plans to hold warming to less than 2C on a pathway to 1.5C, as set by Paris in 2015. It’s clear, however, that action to address the climate issue is not just an elite process. It is a global problem. There is no “bad person” that is responsible for the situation we find ourselves in. It is a direct product of government inaction and exposure of the people’s vulnerability.
Since COP-15 in 2009, the Climate Change Coalition has gained an international representation of over 1,000 stakeholders, including civil society, indigenous people and local elected officials. If the proven power and voices of these voices are not brought to bear in COP-22 in Katowice, Poland, this opportunity will pass us by.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is the only international instrument enshrined to act on climate change. Its governance structures and committees, its framework of expertise and expertise, the national track to international implementation, its statements of commitment and the statement of the end of the process itself stand out as having the capacity to deliver the most positive climate solutions for us. Unfortunately, the place for debate and discussion in regard to the legal framework for climate action and the conclusion of the Paris agreement is not at these deliberations; it’s at those local discussions at the COP-22, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The end result, whatever it may be, is ultimately about the international rule of law in the face of urgency.