Bella COP illustration 'which way' eyerricksEveryone is the mother of victory; No one is the father of defeat. Do we claim COP21 as a success, and risk watching it being used by fossil fuel failures to carry on burning humanity, and so become complicit in defeat? Do we claim COP21 was a failure, and risk being the naysayers who didn’t recognise the work needed to bring fossil fuels (instead of humanity) to an end? This Loki-esque question about our motives, about our fears for how we might appear, may seem beside the point if the fundamental question is “Was the COP a success or a failure?And there are screeds of excellent articles assessing the outcome of the Paris COP Agreement, the Agreement that is now the world’s governments’ roadmap for addressing climate change.

On the side saying it has been a failure, we have Friends of the EarthClimate Code Red, the New InternationalistKevin Anderson, and a zillion other campaigning groups and scientists:

  • The New Internationalist describes the Paris deal as an ‘Epic fail on a planetary scale’ (see their cartoon history of climate negotiations) and conclude that, although “The Paris Agreement aims to keep the global average temperature rise to ‘well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C’” in fact “the emission cuts contained in the agreement are based on voluntary pledges called ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ (INDCs) that governments drew up individually before the talks, . . . [and] are going to lead us to 3.7° warming of the planet.”
  • George Monbiot superbly sums up the talks, saying: “By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster.” He writes that: “A maximum of 1.5C, now an aspirational and unlikely target, was eminently achievable when the first UN climate change conference took place in Berlin in 1995.

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