COP21: Paris climate change conference ‘almost a talking jamboree’

The 2015 Climate Conference ended on Saturday with representatives of 195 countries adopting a fresh treaty on how to conduct mitigation and adaptation measures on how to cope with the impacts of climate change.

The 21st Conference of Parties (also known as COP21) aimed to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with a target to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius.

Godwin Ojo, Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action, said the Paris treaty failed to mark a significant shift towards curbing climate change.

“COP21 was almost a talking jamboree, except that a historic treaty was signed,” Mr. Ojo, who participated in the climate talks, said during a debriefing meeting with journalists in Lagos on Monday.

“The outcome was long predicted. It was a continued fight between industrialized rich countries of the world and the poor countries of the world.

“Despite the energy and time put into the talks, the governments represented the voice of corporations far more than the citizens they govern.”

Countries at the conference, among a list of agreements, reached a consensus to set national targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions every five years.

Nearly all the participating countries have already submitted targets for the first cycle of greenhouse gas emissions reduction starting in 2020.

However, no penalty was stipulated for countries who miss their emission targets.

But a key area of unfair treatment meted by developed countries to developing countries, according to Mr. Ojo, is in the weak ambition in curbing climate change.

“Although the agreement recognizes limiting temperature rise to under I.5 degrees, a position informed by science and pushed by global civil society groups but it has been subordinated within a 2 degrees development pathway,” he said.

“Clearly equity and fair shares on the global carbon bank that should hold developed countries accountable has not been used to generate solutions.”

The 2015 climate conference attracted almost 50,000 participants including 25,000 official delegates from governments, intergovernmental organizations, UN agencies, NGOs, and civil society.

For the agreement reached on Saturday to have legal force, it must be ratified by, at least, 55 out of the 195 participating countries that adopted it.

The United States, China, and the European Union account for almost 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions around the globe.

Mr. Ojo said that as climate change negotiations were going on in Paris, oil companies’ chief executives “were all over the place influencing the decision.”

“There is a need to kick big time polluters out of the COP process in entirety so that dirty energy companies involved in huge emissions are not part of the decision making process,” said Mr. Ojo.

“Since the treaty has a limited and vague vision of reducing the Nigerian government to immediately embark on a post petroleum economy and diversify the energy mix to renewable sources of energy.

“We propose the urgent de-carbonisation of the economy and the energy sector by recognizing and promoting an energy transition from oil, gas, coal and other fossil fuels by 2030.

“Governments should divest public finance, subsidies and loans for oil, gas and coal and these should be invested in renewable energy development.”

Mr. Ojo called on the Nigerian government to immediately embark on a post petroleum economy and diversify the energy mix to renewable sources of energy.

“To this end, we hereby launch the Annex 0 group in contrast to Annex 1, and Non-Annex 1, and Annex II Groups,” he said.

“Annex 0 is an initiative to recognize the efforts of peoples, communities, nationalities, undertaken against the impacts of oil, gas, coal, and other fossil fuel extraction and to halt its expansion, protect the environment, and lives on planet earth.

“A Register of Annex 0 membership is herby opened for practical uses by 2016.”

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