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World Climate Summit in Paris - Statement by NFI President Manfred Pils
International Delegation of Naturefriends at COP21 / ©Naturfeunde  

An important step towards a low-carbon future and global climate justice

Record heat waves in the last years, countless refugees from Africa and rising smog-levels in India and China made an impact, leading 196 countries and the European Union to sign the new international climate protection agreement in Le Bourget.

Before and during the conference, 187 states declared their objectives regarding the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, which have now been included as binding goals in the new treaty. Even emerging markets like China, India or Brazil announced respective targets. 
The objectives set in the past were insufficient: they would still increase global warming to 2.7 to 3 degree Celsius. Now the two-degree target has been set as a binding commitment, and a desirable outcome of only 1.5 degrees Celsius has been included in the treaty as well. The implementation of those goals has to be verified every five years in order to adapt national targets if necessary. Hopefully, those mechanisms will initiate a new, self-reinforcing energy revolution in the course of the next years. As the civil society it is our duty to demand the necessary steps while critically observing the implementation of the agreement.

The treaty is a step in the right direction: we no longer have to argue whether the two-degree target is necessary; instead, we can focus on its implementation. The treaty holds plenty of loopholes. Take the so-called climate neutrality: from 2050 on, no more greenhouse gases are to be emitted than can be absorbed by our planet. Calls for more nuclear power plants or capture of CO2 in the soil seem to be unavoidable and we need to be prepared to fight those wrong “bridging technologies”. In addition, a radical transformation of our transport system is inevitable, as our current system cannot achieve climate neutrality.

Giving climate justice a top priority is another important step, as countries and humans suffering from climate change without having contributed to it need help – also financially. Therefore, starting in 2020, a total of € 91 million will be made available each year while establishing insurance mechanisms against damage through extreme weather conditions as well.

One big compromise is the fact that countries independently check their progress in reaching the set targets with no penalties for missing goals included. Therefore, NGOs have to step up to the plate, pushing for control mechanisms and revealing violations and fraud.

Until the climate protection agreement is ratified, it merely exists on paper. Implementation will demand drastic reforms worldwide; especially in industrialised nations and the European Union. Profound reforms of our economic system, which so far relies greatly on fossil fuels, are needed. After the climate conference it is our job to fight for an effective protection of our climate!

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