As world leaders come together to sign the Paris agreement, an international alliance of frontline and indigenous communities calls it a dangerous distraction.
Close to 155 countries are preparing to sign the Paris agreement on Earth Day, April 22, in New York, but an international alliance of grassroots and Indigenous leaders say that the agreement is a dangerous distraction.
“The Paris Climate agreement doesn’t even mention fossil fuels, the clearest cause of climate change. The agreement is a dangerous distraction that leaves common sense, science, human rights and the rights of communities on the frontlines of climate change on the negotiating table. While world leaders are finally taking action they are heading down the wrong path. Frontline communities and indigenous peoples have been calling for a clear path to solve our climate crisis. We can end the privatisation of nature, we can stop the use of dirty fossil fuels and we can stop climate change. We know this because we are on the front lines of climate change, we see it, we know it, we live it. The world will not find solutions to climate change without us,” said Cindy Wiesner of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, USA.
The red line against climate change
“I started attending the UN (United Nations) climate meetings in 1999. Over the last 17 years I have witnessed corporate, Wall Street and other financial influence gut any real solutions coming out of the negotiations. As a result, the Paris agreement goal of stopping global temperature rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius is not real because the pledges each country is making will allow emission levels that will increase global temperature by 3-4 degrees. This will be catastrophic to the ecosystem of the world, including the ice culture of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic. The Paris agreement will result in the cooking of the planet. We, indigenous peoples, are the red line against climate change. We cannot be idle, we have never been idle. Indigenous voices are rising up globally to demand climate justice for humanity, for human rights and the rights of Mother Earth,” said Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network, North America.
Nnimmo Bassey, Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Nigeria, explained, “The Paris agreement locks in fossil fuels and to underscore corporate capture of the negotiations, the word, fossil, is not as much as mentioned in the document. It is shocking that although the burning of fossil fuels is known to be a major contributor to global warming, climate negotiations engage in platitudes rather than going to the core of the problem. Scientists tell us that burning of fossil fuels would have to end by 2030 if there would be a chance of keeping temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. The signal we get from the silence on the fossils factor is that oil and coal companies can continue to extract profit while burning the planet.”
The signing of Paris agreement is purely ceremonial but most countries still need to authenticate the agreement at national level. The agreement will only come into force after at least 55 countries representing at least 55 pc of global emissions have ratified.
Keeping coal, oil, gas in the ground
May Boeve, Executive Director, 350.org, an international environmental organisation, said, “The formal signing of the Paris agreement could be the next nail in the coffin of the fossil fuel industry if governments actually follow through on their commitments. The growing and vibrant climate movement is forcing governments to bow to the pressure to break free from fossil fuels. However there is still a dangerous gap between what the governments are signing up to, what they are doing and the real ambition we need to avert the worst impacts of climate change. The only way to achieve this is by keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground. As a movement we will continue to hold governments accountable, ensure they ratify the treaty, go well beyond their current targets and accelerate the transition to 100 pc renewable energy.
May Boeve added: “The fossil fuel industry is pushing our climate to the brink faster than anyone expected, as record temperatures are proving, along with extreme weather related events. We are all at risk from a warming planet, so we are left with no choice but to scale up nonviolent direct action. As the transition from dirty energy to clean and efficient energy systems grows stronger and faster, communities and private citizens around the world will continue to hold decision makers accountable to their promises, and to science.”