Waiting for a miracle of political will
Paris. Day 12. The final draft text was released at 9pm Thursday night and exhausted negotiators are discussing it today, Friday, with the goal of releasing a final text tomorrow. Twelve days and nights of complex negotiations have not strengthened the original text but weakened it.
It started off ambitiously. World leaders came to Paris and spoke of the magnitude of the problem. They called for quick, decisive action. They pledged to help, support, promote. They declared millions of dollars for mitigation, adaptation, green economies and new technology.
Then the negotiators took over. Their task the first week was to reduce the 54 page agreement to pave the way for the ministerial negotiations the following week. Not negotiating positions per say but teasing out the best options. What resulted was a weakening of the text: large swathes of text were removed and brackets [options] for key issues were added in. When all was said and done, 20 pages were left. On the cutting room floor were basic issues like human rights – which inexplicably disappeared from the final operational text.
This week, the ministers are back to negotiate. What, exactly, is not clear.
We’ve agreed. Climate change is a real threat to the lives and livelihoods of people around the world.
It is not something that will happen. It is happening. It is changing our world for the worst – today: ln the Canadian North some of the winter roads no longer form, isolating communities for months. In California, a 5 year drought is threatening the world’s food supply. Some of the worlds cities have been rendered inhabitable, pushing people into cities – wreaking economic havoc and creating political instability. Other cities have smog so thick you can’t see a foot in front of you. And it’s getting worse. Daily. We don’t need to wait for a 2 degree ceiling to see, feel, live the impact of climate change.
The Ministers want an agreement: to hold the world accountable – but with no liability. To agree to collective action – but not to disrupt anything. To build a just, green economy – without harming the (black) one we have. To change without changing.
This is the deciding moment. We’ve assessed the problem, and decided that Climate Change is a threat. We must now decide the fate of humanity. Who will win? The interests of business or the interests of the people?
It’s a life or death situation at COP. But as always – the countries are focused on financial cost – not human costs.
The irony of the situation is that we will pay. The question is simply when. Do we invest today and shape the future that we want? Build just, sustainable economies, build in solid mitigation and adaptation systems: new food systems, migration paths, fuel markets etc. Or do we wait? And then be forced to pay to rebuild our cities after they are damaged by storms, relocate our people when cities disappear, respond to crisis after crisis.
24 hours to go. And the world is waiting. Watching. Hoping.