Some NGO Reflections on COP21

Jagoda Munic of Friends of the Earth International at the start of the conference: “President Obama called for a low carbon future, but the people urgently need a low carbon present …. the richest nations are not committing to what is actually needed to avert irreversible climate change and protect people from the impacts of the climate crisis.”

Sibongile Mtungwa of Women’s Leadership and Training Programme: “Our governments invest a lot in infrastructure development. Roads, housing, schools and hospitals are the kind of infrastructure that many people depend on for their livelihood development. People who will be affected by climate change are faced with questions about how best they can prepare for the challenges of climate change in the way they build their houses and the schools for their children. This could lead to a shift in the way we plan our built environments. There are also questions around how to maintain the houses and the schools so that we can avoid scenarios of rebuilding every few years. This calls for a rise in our engineering standards. This also calls for all the citizens to participate at local, provincial and national levels to design our built environment to cope with climate change today and in the future. Indigenous knowledge systems and contemporary engineering must work together to develop best designs for different regions and countries.”

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg a day before the Paris Agreement was concluded: “While the COP 21 climate negotiations are still in progress in Paris, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg maintains that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has failed world citizens who will ultimately carry the climate burden. Despite COP being in its 21st session, global greenhouse gases continue to rise, and the earth is on the brink of runaway temperature rise. It is clear that the international climate governance regime is a farce, and local action is the urgent last hope.”

Munjurul Khan of the Climate Development and Knowledge Centre: “Adoption of the Paris Agreement is a historic landmark achievement of the global community. This Agreement created an opportunity to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by taking into account the objective of the Convention, and being guided by its principles, including the principle of equity and Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR) and Respective Capabilities (RC), in the light of different national circumstances. Inclusion of human rights and climate justice in the Agreement shall provide scope for stronger argument for demanding climate action for vulnerable. However, the non-punitive nature of compliance measures may be a serious limiting factor for implementation of the Agreement.”

Smita Nakhooda of the Overseas Development Institute: “The need to green all investments in all forms around the world has permeated the UN climate negotiations. The goal in the draft agreement states that finance flows should be consistent with a pathway towards low emission and climate resilient development, in the context of sustainable development priorities and efforts to eradicate poverty. Over the next five years we must begin to unlock the investments needed to deliver on the promises all countries made this year on both climate and development. Shifting investment so that countries can achieve and exceed their national pledges (known as INDCs) and stopping investment in old world, high-carbon approaches to development will gives us the chance to actually deliver the Paris deal that the world worked so hard to strike.”

Mohamed Adow, Senior Climate Advisor, Christian Aid: “For the first time in history, the whole world has made a public commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deal with the impacts of climate change. Although different countries will move at different speeds, the transition to a low carbon world is now inevitable. Governments, investors and businesses must ride this wave or be swept away by it. Negotiations were long and hard fought but the result is an agreement which will usher in a new dawn of climate-aware politics. The era of politicians burying their heads in the sand is over.”