Real work begins on final Paris deal as people unite behind ambition

Intro

Civil society groups united for a peaceful sit-in Thursday in UN negotiation halls, just hours after ministers unveiled a draft negotiation text for a Paris outcome. Mobilizers, who included trade unionists, youth, gender, and indigenous peoples, called for an ambitious Paris deal that delivers enough emissions reductions and finance to protect the world’s most vulnerable. As the citizen groups came together to demand climate justice, so did countries – albeit more slowly – to try and resolve key elements of the deal being negotiated, like a long-term decarbonisation goal and regular reviews to increase ambition. While certain elements of the text require further anchoring, outside the negotiating halls the pace of change is unparalleled, showing those few remaining blocker countries that they are swimming against a very strong tide.  With the latest draft text now on the table, governments in Paris have just over two days left to decide whether they want to get on board and accelerate the just transition to a clean, safe, energy future which protects the poorest, or get left behind in ignominy.

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Key Points

  • With the draft text out, the hard work begins now. While climate impacts affect poor and vulnerable nations disproportionately, extreme weather is an increasingly frequent occurrence among richer nations, and is already wreaking havoc in places like the US and central Europe. A Paris deal could either be ambitious or compromised – and with only a couple of days until negotiations wrap up, now is the moment for all countries to work together and put all their cards on the table if they wish to deliver.
  • The momentum for a climate deal is stronger than ever. With two days of negotiations remaining, today’s announcement from the US that it will double its contribution towards adaptation aid is just one example of the good will pervading this process. More people than ever are uniting on a common platform for change, and the close of COP21 will act not as an end point, but rather a tipping point to accelerate the ongoing transition towards 100 per cent renewable energy.
  • A Paris agreement will signal a fundamental change in the world. Throughout last week, there were announcements from a wide array of voices like finance, health, business leaders and scientists calling out risks associated with climate change, and calling on governments to craft a strong agreement that protects the public from impacts linked to global warming and pollution from fossil fuels. Hundreds of thousands of people are mobilizing to demand that leaders get on board with the just transition to a safer, more stable world powered by renewable energy – because it makes sense for people, the economy, and the environment.

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Key Quotes

  • “The updated climate text today marks a key moment for the Paris agreement.  Political leaders will make final choices in the coming hours about how we take global action to fight the climate crisis.  Sierra Club urges ambitious and just action to leave a safer home for our children and protect the world’s most vulnerable nations.” – Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club
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  • “The next 24 hours are critical. This is where the real negotiations will begin. We really need countries to fight to keep in the high ambition options on climate finance, the long term decarbonisation goal and a ratchet mechanism to ensure the agreement evolves to meet the needs of a changing world.” – Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid’s Senior Climate Advisor
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  • “It’s encouraging to see a cleaner text that contains fewer brackets as a result of agreements being reached on issues like technology development and transfer and capacity building. However, the agreements on the core political issues—the long-term goal, review and revision of INDCs, transparency, loss and damage, and finance—have yet to be resolved. We’re now at the critical point of the negotiations. Over the next day or two, ministers need to rise above their differences to create a final agreement that rapidly transitions the world to a clean energy economy and allows us to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.” – Alden Meyer, director of policy and strategy, Union of Concerned Scientists
  • “The draft agreement continues to leave developing nations hanging.  There are just two days to reach a deal that is fair and just for the world’s poorest.  With what’s currently on the table, rich nations are still holding the purse strings, unwilling to commit to their fair share of action to save the people and their planet.” – Adriano Campolina, Chief Executive, ActionAid International
  • “The good news is that we are seeing unprecedented support for the demand of the most vulnerable countries to limit warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Anything beyond means that climate change impacts will increase at the expense of the poor. But a 1.5 degree target is not yet agreed and would be on its own a hollow shell. It must be underpinned by a long-term goal to cut emissions, which is currently on the table.” – Sven Harmeling, Climate Change Advocacy Coordinator, CARE International
  • “We still have the ingredients for an ambitious outcome in Paris. But they still haven’t taken the hard decisions yet. Ministers now have just two days to decide to either put us on a path that will limit us to 1.5C of warming, or towards a 3C world. The text now includes more options to have all nations come back to the table by 2020 to improve their current pledges. That said, they’ll need to close existing loopholes to make sure any pre-2020 review and ratcheting up mechanism is comprehensive – covering adaptation, finance, and emissions reductions – and does not let some countries off the hook.”  – Tasneem Essop, WWF’s head of delegation to the UN climate talks in Paris
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  • “It is not only about climate change, but it is in the economic interest of Saudi Arabia to diversify its economy, and reduce its dependence on the fossil fuel trade. Any shock in the energy market, such as the current low oil prices, will heavily impact the Saudi’s economy. Saudi Arabia needs to use the opportunity of a climate agreement to transition with the rest of the world into an economy that does not depend on fossil fuels.” – Safa’ al Jayoussi, Head of climate campaign at IndyACT & CAN Arab World Coordinator
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  • “These negotiations are not about them and us. They are about all of us, developed and developing countries, finding common ground and solutions together. We urge other countries to join us. Together we can do it,” – Miguel Arias Cañete, EU climate commissioner
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  • “This being the last three days of this meeting, there needs to be bridging. To reach out to those who still have doubts and maybe help convince them that the message that we are putting out is for real and it does makes sense and it has the support of a lot more people than may first meet the eye.” – Marshall Islands’ foreign minister, Tony de Brum
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  • “Many leaders say they support a 1.5 degree temperature limit, and we’re heartened to hear that, but that doesn’t change anything if you don’t have a map and a car to get to that destination. We feel that this map is in serious jeopardy. We need a long-term goal that shows us where to go, and we need an ambition mechanism that accelerates action over time. If we rule out the ability to revisit our commitments before 2020, there is no chance to get to 1.5 degrees. We don’t think everything is lost, but we are concerned. The ministers are holding the pen. Those of us who have watched for a long time see a new spirit of cooperation, but this cooperation has to result in something real and meaningful.” – Ruth Davis, Greenpeace
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  • “Addressing loss and damage is a life and death issue, not a bargaining chip. Negotiators need to take the politics out of this topic. All the talk we heard from leaders—about solidarity and standing with vulnerable countries—has to become real. All ministers, particularly of the US, now have to show flexibility, and leave the politics behind, for the sake of the vulnerable people.” – Harjeet Singh, ActionAid
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  • “Right now, in the Arab Group, there is no peer pressure, there are no champions, so Saudi Arabia has been allowed to act as a blocker for much of the climate talks. Arab countries are standing silent and letting Saudi Arabia talk on their behalf. Morocco and Egypt have strong climate action plans and Jordan has the largest wind farm in the region, but due to their silence, their climate action and their reputations are being undermined. Will they keep hiding behind Saudi Arabia’s obstruction, or will they step out and represent the will for climate action in the region?” -Safa’ Al Jayoussi, IndyACT
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  • “The fight for 1.5°C that has reemerged here in Paris is critically important because it emphasizes how urgent this crisis is for millions of vulnerable people across the planet”.- 350.org Executive Director May Boeve
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  • “We expect world leaders to demonstrate their leadership in finalising the agreement required and we urge them to listen to the voice of business. We need a clear vision of the world we’re shaping for tomorrow, a direction of travel. This means a specific long-term zero emissions goal well before the end of the century. The impetus from a strong Paris outcome will enable us to speed up and scale up our solutions.” – Philippe Joubert, Chair of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group
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  • “We believe that, under the very capable leadership of the French Presidency, the majority of ministers are working well towards an historic outcome – a robust, transparent, enduring, dynamic and legally binding climate regime containing all major emitters that has the potential to keep the 2°C target within reach.” – Nigel Topping, CEO of We Mean Business
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  • “The window for limiting warming to 1.5 degrees is still open, but closing fast. Of course it would be more difficult  than two degrees:  it means making the same type of transformational change – but faster.  On the other hand, two degrees is simply not safe. The impacts, such as extreme heat and long term sea level rise, would be substantially reduced under 1.5.” –  Dr Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, Climate Analytics/IPCC.
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  • “It is unfair that the rights of Indigenous Peoples are not included in the text. We are on the frontline of climate change, and are suffering its first and worst impacts. So we have a right to be recognised in this international forum.” – Vyzcheslav Shadrin from the Yukagir people in the Russian Far East.
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  • “Some of the words in this text are smeared with the fingerprints of the oil-producing states. It’s a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly, but we’ve got three days to force the worst stuff out and get a decent deal. It’s crunch-time now, it’s going be hard, but there’s a lot still to fight for. It’s good that a temperature goal of 1.5 degrees C is still there. – Kaisa Kosonen, Greenpeace

On investors calling for business to go for 100 per cent renewables (RE100)

  • “Aviva Investors believes that RE100 is an important and welcome initiative. We are happy to recommend RE100 to the companies that we own as worthy of serious consideration. It has the potential to be an important component of managing carbon impact and delivering a business model in line with 2 degrees.” –Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer at Aviva Investors
  • “The RE100 is an excellent initiative that we are very pleased to support. The promotion of energy is critical to the decarbonisation of the global economy. It makes perfect sense for us as a responsible investor to put our name behind this initiative, and we look forward to engaging with companies on this issue.” – Philippe Desfosses, CEO of ERAPF
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  • “We’re delighted to have brought together investors to encourage companies to take the lead and embrace renewable power. Increasing corporate demand for renewable energy is an innovative and forward-thinking strategy that investors can adopt to combat climate change risk in their portfolios. We hope to see many more companies sign up to go 100% renewable as a result of this initiative.” – Catherine Howarth, Chief Executive at ShareAction
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  • “We have the great pleasure to announce our  support for the excellent RE100 initiative. Private players’ mobilisation in favour of the transition towards a low carbon economy is essential to ensure sustainable economic returns in the long run. Not only will Mirova encourage enterprises to join this initiative, but, in line with its global low carbon investment strategy, it will also highlight those enterprises that will adhere to it.” – Philippe Zaouati, CEO at Mirova
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  • “We’re already seeing companies joining RE100 and committing to 100% renewable power at a remarkable rate, but if we’re going to tip the balance of the energy market in favour of renewables once and for all we need all world leading businesses with us. Investors are uniquely placed to make a significant difference through this programme.” – Emily Farnworth, RE100 Campaign Director at The Climate Group

On US adaptation finance

  • “Secretary Kerry came to Paris to inject some urgency into the closing hours of the negotiations, which is surely needed. We welcome his call for an ambitious and enduring agreement with regular, transparent reviews of countries’ climate actions. But the US is still missing a clear long term goal and the acknowledgement that a future free of the fear of climate change requires full decarbonization of the economy and the transition to 100% renewables by 2050. – Kyle Ash, Senior Legislative Representative at Greenpeace
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  • “The [US] doubling of public commitments for adaptation is a very helpful development as we head into the final days in Paris. These funds will increase the total pot of climate finance available to support vulnerable countries and shows the U.S. commitment to reach a strong outcome. Climate finance is a sensible investment to increase resilience and reduce instability abroad. As he has done many times in his distinguished career, Secretary Kerry is showing a steadfast commitment to tackling the climate challenge. We are entering crunch time. All countries should come together in a spirit of solidarity to achieve as strong an agreement as possible.” – Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute
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  • “It is welcome to see rich countries at these talks stepping forward to provide practical support which will make a real difference to some of the poorest people facing droughts, floods, sea level rise and extreme weather events. This shows that countries are engaging with each other and rich nations are listening to the needs of the poorest. Starting to deliver on previous finance commitments will build trust between countries at this crucial juncture. This will hopefully now start a snowball effect with other rich countries potentially following suit.” – Mohamed Adow, Senior Climate Advisor at Christian Aid
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  • “Increasing our commitment to protect the most vulnerable is the right thing to do, deeply consistent with our moral values. Faith communities support this. We’ll let Congress we support it. And, we’ll push for continuing, increasing support for this vital cause.”  – Rev. Fletcher Harper, GreenFaith
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  • “This announcement is a good first step, but we need the US government to dramatically step up its commitment to climate finance. As Pope Francis said, ‘A true ecological debt exists between the global north and south’ as they poorest will suffer the most from climate change, so the US government needs to pay its debt.” – Tomás Insua, Global Coordinator of the Global Catholic Climate Movement
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  • “Climate change is undermining the viability of health systems around the world, and overwhelming their capacity to protect our patients’ health. Climate-related disasters are causing the increasingly frequent breakdown of health infrastructure worldwide, and this is taking its toll in human lives. Finance to strengthen these systems and better prepare the health workforce to tackle the effects of a changing climate is a crucial step forward.” – Dr. Nick Watts, Head of Project/Lead Author, Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change
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  • “As evangelicals we are concerned about the way that climate change is disproportionately affecting the poor and vulnerable within our own country, and around the world. We are grateful for President Obama’s commitment to the Green Climate Fund and the targeted support it would lend to those most in need. Innovative finance strategies that help mitigate the harmful effects of climate change in the lives of our global neighbors will continue to be a critical necessity. As young people, we are looking to our own policy-makers here in the United States to lead this global effort with boldness and creativity.” – Rachel Lamb, National Organizer and Spokesperson, Young Evangelicals for Climate Action
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  • “In his speech today, Secretary Kerry sounded the right notes on urgency and the need for much greater ambition in coming to grips with the climate crisis. The announcement of additional support for vulnerable countries to take action to cope with the mounting impacts of climate change is especially welcome, and comes at a key point in the Paris climate negotiations. The prize of an ambitious, comprehensive, and effective long-term climate agreement is within our grasp, if compromises can be found on the remaining crunch issues. Secretary Kerry has long been a leader on the climate issue and his leadership will be needed more than ever over the remaining days of the climate talks here in Paris.” – Alden Meyer, Director of Strategy and Policy, Union of Concerned Scientists

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