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  November 15, 2016

TRNN at COP22: After Donald Trump, Will the 'COP of Action' Become Just Another COP of Inaction?

Hoda Baraka of discusses the implications of Donald Trump's victory for the first climate conference after the Paris Accord.
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Full Episode

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DIMITRI LASCARIS, TRNN: This is Dimitri Lascaris for the Real News Network in Marrakech, Morocco.

I’m here today with Hoda Baraka, the global communications director of Thank you for joining us.

HODA BARAKA: Thank you for having me.

LASCARIS: So, last December, the world community came together for the first ever climate accord. At the time, global leaders hailed it as being something of a historic achievement, an unprecedented achievement. Organizations like were more sanguine and talked about the inadequacy of the emission reduction targets. Since then, countries have had an opportunity to up their game, come together with more meaningful targets. Where do we currently stand in terms of the collective targets of the global community and what is the science telling us about those targets if they’re in fact ultimately achieved.

BARAKA: So, the targets currently on the table, based on what governments presented in the lead up to the Paris Summit, are highly inadequate. They fall very short of what needs to happen. They basically, the current commitments put us on a 3-degree trajectory in terms of warming which is highly problematic. The agreement itself speaks to a maximum of 2 degrees, aspiring to 1.5. So there’s that big gap. The problem is that going into Marrakech, the idea coming into this conference is for governments to really put down what they call the rulebook of how it is that they were meant to be having a system to monitor and report on the commitments and where they’re going with emission reductions based on their commitments.

But for us coming into Marrakech there’s a bigger conversation of already the inadequacy of the commitments right? We are still not there in terms of what needs to happen. We’re already seeing a climate impact unfolding worldwide. We’re not in a good space. We’re not seeing, we already were not seeing enough leadership to close that gap and to really see the kind of action that the world needs at this point. So time is not on our side. This is really the message that we continue to bring into this process because the UN, the world celebrated the Paris Agreement but this was an agreement that took over 20 years of a process unfolding. That’s certainly not a luxury that the world can afford right now.

LASACRIS: And they’ve called this, I understand the COP of action. What do you think realistically we can expect to achieve and what ought we be able to achieve, assuming that the ambition is there during this particular COP?

BARAKA: The part that was highly unexpected and I think it really did echo inside the process was the elections in the US. This was obviously a shocker moment. It put a lot of countries in alert because of what it meant potentially in regards to now what would be seen as a step back in the leadership or the role of the US in moving forward the global process in the lead up to Paris. Now the expectation is a very different role for the US. So, there’s been a lot of attempts to absorb that. Not have it shake the spirits of where the international community was at after the Paris Agreements.

I think in terms of really being able to see those concrete action agendas. I’m not certain that we’re going to be in a good space at the end of this conference. What I do see is in reaction to the US results, there is obviously a reaction in the international community that I think is urgent and necessary which is response to really reinforce the message that these results are not going to hamper the unity of the global movement and the process and as you were saying countries stepping in to really want to take more of a leadership role. Understanding that there will be a void with what is expected from a Trump presidency.

LASCARIS: In Canada where I come from, we’ve now had a year of our new government, Justin Trudeau who declared at COP21 that Canada was back on the international scene, particularly with respect to dealing with the climate crisis. In your judgement, has the rhetoric been matched by the actions of the Trudeau government in the year that we’ve had to see whether the government is truly committed to battling the climate crisis?

BARAKA: If the government such as the Canadian government and other governments that currently need to take very serious decisions that really confirm their pro-climate stance, in Canada specific, that would very simply require initiatives and decisions such as coming out against projects such as the Kinder-Morgan Project. It’s projects like these whether it’s the Kinder Morgan Project in Canada or the Dakota Access Pipeline in the US or the coal project in Australia. There are a number of these project worldwide where if they continue they definitely put us in a position where the climate impact and the climate catastrophes that will unfold, we would be at a point of no return. We are already struggling in that position. We stepped into the danger zone. These projects, the only way for these governments to be true to their word if they claim to be pro climate is for them to halt all these projects.

LASCARIS: Now you and I were both at COP21 last year and I know that you were at the major demonstration that happened on the last day of the conference over by the [inaud.]. But generally speaking, during the conference it was rather difficult for protestors to gather in any significant numbers and make their voices heard. It strikes me as somewhat ironic that we’re here today a week before the end of the conference in a country that is governed by a monarchy. Some would say a fairly oppressive autocracy. Yet we’re on a street standing behind hundreds if not over a thousand protestors who’ve come together to make their voices heard in a climate justice march. What do you think this has to say about the state of tolerance in the western world for dissent in connection in the climate crisis that here in Morocco we’re able to have a demonstration of this nature but in Paris, in the Republic of France, fraternity, legality, and so forth, we struggle so much to have our voices heard?

BARAKA: This is – I think it speaks to really challenging space that we’re in globally. Across the world with different circumstances and excuses being used to really silence movements. This is an increasing challenge that we’re seeing unfold worldwide. This is where for us for example, coming together in Paris and coming together today and in other big mobilizations and actions that we see worldwide for the movement, it’s really the priority for us to – the movement has grown, the movement has unified and it’s moments like these that are important for us to be able to reinforce that message and show the world really where we’re at. The climate justice march today is one that echoes the demands and the needs across different movements. It’s an environmental message. It’s a social message. It’s an economic message. It’s definitely worldwide. The mood requires more and more ways for us to be reinforcing these messages collectively and finding the space and the means and the tools to overcome all the different forms of oppression and censorship that citizens worldwide are currently experiencing.

LASCARIS: Well I know you’ll be here for some days to come and I hope I’ll have another opportunity to talk to you before the end of the conference to monitor the progress.

BARAKA: I look forward to that. Thank you so much.

LASACARIS: Thank you very much. This is Dimitri Lascaris for the Real News.


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recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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