After following for two weeks the work of the UN Climate Conference, the team of Ecojesuit (jesuits and lay experts in environmental issues) comments in this concluding article the agreement reached in Paris. Here you can read all previous texts, in Italian and English.
After the scenes of enthusiasm that we saw yesterday at Le Bourget in Paris, by now many comments have already been produced on the Agreement reached by the COP 21. In general, except a very few voices, the Agreement is recognised as positive, or even as very positive.We would like to share a first analysis, that will need a much closer reading of the text, but above all,it will need a longperiod of implementation. This will gave a real perspective, not only of the capacity of negotiation, but about the capacity of carrying out consistent policies. These are some of the most critical issues:
An agreement is always good. After several years of what has been called "the climate impasse" to reach an agreement isa very positive signal. While we are witnessing a world convulsed by conflicts, and where there is not a real progress towards the necessary global governance, we must recognise that an agreement -unanimous- by 195 countries, on such a sensitive topic as the climate impacts, it is indeed a very positive action. We know already what it means when there is not any agreement: no capacity to develop effective policies, inability to generate the necessary funds, more chaos, uncertainty, and in the end, the imposition by the most powerful and never to the benefit of the most vulnerable. A deal like this, with all its imperfections, reminds us the moral superiority of consensus, and the importance of the processes that generate it.
We know where the boundaries are. The limit to global warming is below 1.5 ° C, and certainly below 2 ° C. This is basically what the agreement says, that we are already at the limit of what is tolerable. When setting 2 ° C, and clearly pointing the desirable threshold of 1.5 ° the Agreement is acknowledging that the only possible path of security for the planet is the total reduction of the emissions of greenhouse gases. And this means that we should move towards a world where fossil fuels cannot be anymore part of our energy mix. We may will succeed or may be not, may it will take much more time than the desirable, all this is possible. But now we know where the limits are.
The responsibilities are different, but all have responsibilities. Political recognition of the different responsibilities can not be understood as an exemption from such responsibilities. And we are talking about responsibilities at many different levels: national, regional but also local. The Paris Agreement allows a double, and even a triple speed,both in proposing the objectives and to monitor them. It will not be easy: with oil prices below the 50,0 USD, much political courage will be needed to promote renewable energies in the required amount, and this is something that oil-producing countries know very well. It happens, in a similar way, with those countries that spend millions subsidising an inefficient production of coal. The energy transition will need very courageous governments, and yes, although different everybody has its own responsibility.
Coherence is the only sufficient solid ground. An agreement of this kind is obviously very fragile, and not only because of internal failures (to establish very low targets, the lack of homogeneous monitoring mechanisms or simply if any state do not meet the objectives) but also other international agreements (on trade,biodiversity, patents ...) can limit, or reduce, the ambition of this Agreementand even to turn it into irrelevant. This is a piece of the global governance that needs to be inserted into a coherent framework of the international relationships. Only this coherence will allow the parties to implement the Agreement with the required ambition.
Transparency is also fundamental. It is not enough to constitute a fund; even it is not enough to fulfil the financial engagements; besides all this, there must be a system to ensure transparency in the use of these funds. And even more, we need that these funds will positively impact the life of the communities, especially of the most vulnerable. We cannot see again how these resources are spend on huge infrastructures, that only profit the western constructors companies; or even worst, to keep in power cruel and dictatorial rulers. The Green Fund cannot be a mechanism to perpetuate situations of poverty, it has to be a vector of social and environmental transformation. To follow all these processes we need a strong and cohesive civil society that can make the necessary monitoring.
At the end of these two weeks the question that remains in the air is that whether all this was necessary. And by "all" we main a costly and stressful conference that gathers dozens of thousands of people, and that some times looks more like an spectacle than a political event. The question is that if we could develop a more harmonious, dynamic and efficient mechanism were problems could be solved without going through the drama and the intensity of these days in Paris. But maybe this catharsis is needed, this feeling of being close to the abyss is what forces to react and to change the direction. But this purification, as proposed by the Greek theatre, will only be successful if it makes a difference in the lives of those who already live in the abyss of poverty, exclusion, and vulnerability.
The Ecojesuit Team