#COP21: Climate pact puts fossil fuels on 'wrong side' of history
PARIS, France – The global climate deal that the United Nations (UN) climate change conference (COP21) is about to forge in France on Saturday, December 12, may not be as ambitious and strong as civil society groups hoped, but they say it is a significant step in reducing the risks.
Major green groups and activists expressed cautious optimism on the deal that has been tabled by the French Presidency, awaiting endorsement from 195 ministers who drilled through contentious drafts in the past two weeks in Le Bourget.
"The wheel of climate action turns slowly, but in Paris it has turned. This deal puts the fossil fuel industry on the wrong side of history,” Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo said.
Emma Ruby-Sachs, Avaaz acting executive director, noted that “if agreed, this deal will represent a turning point in history, paving the way for the shift to 100% clean energy that the world wants and the planet needs.
Meanwhile, Bill McKibben, 350.org co-founder, noted that “every government seems now to recognize that the fossil fuel era must end and soon,” but he cautioned that "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.
On Saturday, 350.org lead a huge protest that defied the French government's ban on demonstrations in the wake of the November 13 terror attacks that left the city in shock. (READ: Defiance in Paris as #COP21 wraps up)
An emotional French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who presided over nearly a fortnight of talks in Paris, delivered the proposal to ministers.
The deal would "aim at limiting warming of the planet since the Industrial Revolution to 'well below' 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and strive for an even more ambitious goal of 1.5C,” Fanius gave assurances. (READ: #COP21: Final draft of global climate pact out)
Fabius also announced the deal would set a "floor" in funding, in which at least $100 billion (92 billion euros) a year from 2020 would be channelled to help the developing world fight global warming.
"It is my conviction that we have come up with an ambitious... agreement," Fabius said, telling the ministers they would achieve a "historic turning point" for the world if they endorsed it.
Other groups expressed disappointment over the outcome if the conference, saying that the agreement offers a frayed life-line to vulnerable countries and communities. (WATCH: #COP21: Not ready for 1.5-degree-Celsius cap?)
"Only the vague promise of a new future climate funding target has been made, while the deal does not force countries to cut emissions fast enough to forestall a climate change catastrophe,” Oxfam executive director Helen Szoke said.
According to Samantha Smith, leader of the WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative, efforts of countries from now on must be measured against their commitments.
She’s stressed, "most importantly, they still need to actually deliver on that goal going forward, which must include assistance for the poor and vulnerable who will suffer from the immediate impacts of climate change. – With a report from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com