Words, words, words: The Failure of the Paris Agreement

In reaction to the text that was released this afternoon, later passed tonight, the spirits today are all different. My heart is heavy and confused: torn between being part of a strong movement that is demanding climate justice while watching a plenary unfold that is delivering an unambitious and immoral deal made of false promises.

The Paris agreement did not start here, or last year. Although during the plenary President Hollande announced that this was the first global agreement on climate, he was ignoring the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change that was signed in 1992. This convention has principles that insists on differentiation between countries, common but differentiation responsibilities, and the need to avoid the dangerous world that is being forced by climate change. It has constantly been under attack from rich countries who have ignored and diluted its core tenants in the last 21 years of negotiations. These principles have been reduced to words without meaning within the Paris agreement and without a proper legal standing and commitments from developed countries


This loss is majorly in the details of the agreement, the details that the USA and other rich countries have crafted behind doors while putting up a smokescreen as the good guys. The US and other countries’ media output is announcing an historical deal created in the halls of Le Bourget. To me, it weighs on my heart seeing this text, reading words of lies crafted by developed countries that are believed by many. This agreement does not hold develop countries accountable to their “ambitious” words in any way. It is not good enough to have a 1.5 degree Celsius target when the actual pathway outlined in the text leads to at least a 3 degree world above pre-industrial levels. The text also calls for climate “neutrality”, which shifts the burden away from developed countries and allows countries to continue to extract and burn fossil fuels. This hurts the most vulnerable through land grabbing, impacts on food production, biodiversity, and forces the future to be determined by unproven and risky technology. This agreement is a farce, one that is working to try to silence the growing movement of people demanding change.

The world may not understand the significance of the words that have been shoved down the throat of this unstable planet, but they will echo for years to come. They weaken the agreement to a degree of complete dilution, leading the world in delusion to this being a deal to celebrate. At the last second, and claiming a ”technical error”, the USA demanded the changing of “shall” to “should”, lessening the binding status of mitigation efforts. What appeared in the final draft is “Developed country Parties should do economy-wide emissions reductions.” This is one of infinite examples of what the USA has done to weaken this deal.

History keeps repeating itself, as this is a reminder when the USA weakened the Kyoto Protocol (which they never signed) to the point of its practical demise. The USA has been forcing their domestic situation of corporate control of governments and people onto the entire world which now has resulted in a disastrous deal today. They have blocked proper mechanisms of loss and damages whiling excluding themselves from compensation and liability for the losses they caused. They are not providing the finance necessary for developing countries to adapt and mitigate, and have introduced mechanisms that benefit huge corporations rather than the people affected by climate change.

One of the most troubling aspects of today’s deal has been watching NGOs, media, and people put a positive spin on this deal. They are compromising to the same big powers that have destroyed any true ambition and equity that could have been written in a global agreement on climate change. Smaller groups have been influenced by bigger NGOs and media. There are whispers of agreement that this must be spun as positive to prove that we have won. But these are lies that are silencing the hurt that is brought on by that agreement. It is damaging and untruthful to turn this deal into something of substance and power that does good.

Today, at least, people have taken to the street. It is clear that climate change is the most severe issue that humanity has ever faced. It is not a problem of one struggle but it is where our struggles come together and are compounded by the same systemic injustices. It is a fight that must be fought for all these injustices. We cannot give up on the frontline communities and most vulnerable, as they will be feeling the impact from this deal. We cannot celebrate a deal where the people that are most affected by climate change but have caused it the least are not protected. This is not a matter of the future or what will come, this is a matter of the current impacts that will only get worse throughout the world. It is not a time for the people who have responsibility and privilege to scream and fight to step back. It is a movement that needs to go forward with a force that no one could ever imagine, reclaiming power not only for ourselves but for people that are hurting all over the world. We cannot hide behind the guise that this deal will solve any problems; we cannot listen to the voices that this deal is an answer to climate change or systemic injustices. If anything this is a sign for the people to rise up, to take to the streets, and demand the kind of ambition and immediate action humanity needs. This deal is not signaling the end of a fossil fuel era; it is the people in this movement who have sent this signal and we will not stop until our demands are met.

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