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Civil society concerned that Paris Agreement will be ‘Great Escape’ for developed countries

On the final day of negotiations, climate justice groups raise concerns that the Paris talks will not deliver ambition and hope for the poor, given what they witnessed at the Bonn meeting.

“We are worried that the Paris agreement will lead to the ‘Great Escape’ of developed countries in meeting their commitments and their historical responsibility,” said Meena Raman of Third World Network in Malaysia. “From what we have witnessed in the process, developed countries especially from the ‘Umbrella Group’ (that includes the US, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand) are shaping an agreement that will be weak on targets for developed countries emission reductions and inconsistent with science and equity. They are also pushing for more loopholes and market mechanisms so their actual reductions will be even less. Equally worrying is the reluctance to have any commitment on finance and technology transfer targets to enable developing countries to undertake strong climate action and adaptation.”

With an inequitable and ambitious agreement seeming a far-off possibility, civil society groups and social movements have identified some positive elements of the current talks which could lead to real impact on the ground.

“As well as fighting the fossil fuel industry and in particular their new extraction projects, we need to implement real solutions on the ground right now,” said Godwin Ojo from Environmental Right Action Nigeria, part of the network Oilwatch International. “For us this is not about 2020, 2030, or like the G7 2100 – for us this about the impacts we are facing today and the transition we needed support for yesterday. For this reason, we welcome developing countries efforts to make something out of the workstream 2 on pre-2020 action, in spite of the great escape effort being mounted by developed countries. We are encouraged by the African proposal to establish a global programme on renewable energy and see it as an important idea that cannot disappear from the talks. Energy access in Africa needs to be seriously improved, and to do that we have to focus on incentivizing community-owned, small scale renewable projects. People and communities need to be at the centre, not big energy corporations. This isn’t about them.”

Azeb Girmai of LDC Watch in Ethiopia brought up that social movements actually have clear demands towards Paris. “We need to address the urgency of the climate crisis. No more delays – developed countries have to cut 50% over 1990 levels before we even get to 2020. In the same pre-2020 time period they also need to get the money to the GCF and fund the technology needs. We can’t spark the necessary global energy transformation nor protect the lives of the most vulnerable without that adequate finance, and we won’t be able to sustain it in the long run post-2020 without scaling up that effort, in line with what science and equity demand.”

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