Voice of Europe: COP21

Story Transcript

(CHRISTOS NTATSIOS) Hello, I am Christos Ntatsios from ThePressProject coming to you from Athens via the Real News Network. Last Sunday, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, otherwise known as COP21 begun in Paris. Sadly, this happens less than a month after the Paris attacks when 130 people lost their lives in a widespread terrorist attack. As a result, the conference has been marred by extreme security measures including a ban on public demonstrations. Two notable reactions include the demonstration of shoes, where would-be protesters left their shoes in the area where they would have marched. In them, one could find notes urging the world leaders to abandon fossil fuel and protect the environment by preventing the pending climate change. The French President F.Hollande, called clashes between demonstrators and the police, scandalous scuffles. The second organized reaction came from the team of Brandalism, an anti-advertisement group of activists which chose to expose the summit as a “greenwashing” event which is held at an airport and sponsored by an airline. Brandalism installed over six hundred art works in advertising spaces across Paris, voicing bitter criticism against the corporate take-over of the COP21. The General Secretary of the U.N. Ban Gi Moon, warned that the voluntary proposals of the countries will not be enough in order to succeed in bringing down the global temperature by two degrees celsius. In the summit, almost 150 world leaders will meet and talk, hoping that they will manage better than they did in the disastrous meeting of Copenhagen in 2009. ThePressPoject has its own correspondent in Paris, Pavlos Georgiadis, who will talk to us about the latest news.

(PAVLOS GEORGIADIS) -What is important in these negotiations, what is at stake at these negotiations is this global goal of keeping global warming at maximum two degrees above pre-industrial levels. Now African leaders announced on Tuesday their goal to add three hundred giga-Watt in renewables by 2030, double the continent’s current energy output The United Nations announced a thirty million dollars commitment to help insure vulnerable communities against climate risks, this is an initiative which saw contributions from France and the Netherlands as well. Now, developed countries are throwing in those numbers of billions of dollars for funding climate action, however, we observe an actual slow down in talks regarding climate financing, this regards how developed country governments plan to scale up annual climate governance to a hundred billion dollars annually by 2030, how they will ensure a significant portion of that finance goes towards adaptation to climate change and what is the level of confidence that this finance will increase after 2020. We have advances in the divestment front, more than five hundred institutions representing over 3,4 trillion US dollars in assets have made some sort of divestment commitment, Banks like Morgan Stanley and Welsh Fargo made news for new commitments to cut coal financing globally, this comes after a new report warns that emissions from currently planned coal projects alone, would take the world beyond two degrees. Today Germany came very strongly into play expressing strong support to the 1,5 degree goal, something that civil society groups along with vulnerable countries are asking for. After especially another new report that was presented by Oxfam which breaks down the idea of carbon inequality showing that the poorest half of the population are responsible for 10% of emissions, while the world’s richest 10% are responsible for around half of global emissions. Now, it is important to know that the COP21 here in Paris is a historic year for humanity here in Paris, because there has never been before such big pressure from civil society from extreme weather events, and of course, this high level of commitment reached this goal.

(CHRISTOS NTATSIOS) You told us about the talks that are happening between the major countries, but we have heard protests about lobbying and the influence of companies, could you please tell us a bit more about this?

(PAVLOS GEORGIADIS) -Before we start reflecting on the climate negotiations, as citizens, we need to stop looking at them only through the of adaptation and mitigation, equity, loss and damage and so on, what we need is to start looking at the process, deciding what are we trying to achieve and how we are trying to accomplish it. So, now, the sponsoring of this COP is being made by some of the biggest environmental polluters of the world, and there are many voices here that are trying to highlight, there is a conflict of interests to have any entity that depends so much on fossil fuels and whose business is so emissions intensive to be paying for a negotiation that is seeking solutions and a path away from those business models. Now this conference here in Paris is coming just a few weeks after the terrorist attacks that were undertaken by Isis in the streets of Paris. These recent attacks highlight the threat climate change poses to global security and there are several voices here that make a call for putting a stop on fossil fuels because lets don’t forget that the ISIS economic machinery is fuelled by illegally traded oil so there is no better place and no better time here in Paris, in 2015 for actually pushing world leaders and our governments to put an end to the dependency of the global economy to fossil fuels. Of course the challenges and the pressure that negotiators are facing from the corporate lobbies and the big fossil fuel lobby is immense and it remains whether all this science and evidence that is coming into surface every day here in Paris in the COP21 will actually manage to put the necessary pressure, and this is a big challenge for independent media, here in the COP21 to sort of interpret and read between the lines of what served to the negotiators. To give you an example the-one of the biggest “emittors” of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, agriculture, is-has been traditionally viewed as a big problem in terms of green house gas emissions now it is the first time that agriculture becomes part of the solution, or at least this is how it is being viewed here, but this is happening through the vehicle of “climate smart agriculture” which is the new buzzword behind the negotiating-inside the negotiating rooms. Now if you look deeper on who is hiding into this global alliance of-for climate smart agriculture, you will see some of the biggest environmental criminals of our times. You will see big fertilizer companies and agrochemical companies, you will see fast food chains, trying to sort of push themselves as solutions to a problem that they have created in the first place. So, there is concern and fear here in the conference that those big players will try to put their hands in very precious pre-climate fund money and actually depriving these funds from the actual solutions that taking in the ground, like for example organic agriculture, regenerative agriculture and a whole you know, concept of Agricology. Another effort that is being done here is for rich governments to sort of hide behind their finger; they are announcing big numbers of support but a lot of these numbers actually might turn out that they are virtual, they are just commitments that are never going to be met. So this is a negotiation that it characterized by long days, negotiators are spending a lot of time in different groups and different-discussing different topics related to the outcome of this conference, and it remains to see whether the level of ambition will be such that will keep us to the 2 degree and the 1,5 degree goal. Now saying that, there is an increasing number of voices from the scientific community that the commitment that countries made are not going to make it. That even we fully implement the proposals of the countries in the context of this agreement, we will not be able to reach this degrees-the-Even if we implement at full the commitments that countries have made in the context of this agreement, we will not be able to reach these goals.

(CHRISTOS NTATSIOS) Pavlo thanks once again. This was Pavlos Georgiadis from Paris. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for watching us.