A ‘Wake-up’ Call at Paris But Real Work Is Pending
By Aditi Kapoor 

Despite 196 nations giving their ‘aye’ to the global climate agreement adopted in Paris on Saturday, the agreement does not really spell a win-win situation for all. Except for the French Presidency, which has ensured that between contact groups and spin-off groups meetings behind closed doors, indaba consultations, bilateral telephonic calls between heads of States and a continuous flow of draft agreements, the final adoption of a global climate pact would occur.

Not all the countries and the 40,000 people who have gathered at Le Bourget to write and seal the now famous Paris climate deal are happy. This is because the agreement does bring to the world all the key elements held dear by all the signatories but does not take these elements to their logical conclusion.

For instance, the need of the hour is to protect the interests of the most vulnerable  indigenous communities, coastal people and poor women but the Paris agreement falls short of a collective commitment to this. Yes, loss and damage is included, just as the island States, Least Development Countries and even India with its thousands of islands, wanted it. But people here cannot expect any compensation from those developed countries whose actions in the past led to this state of affairs. Climate justice here has been ignored. Again, many people will rejoice that there are good business opportunities in low-carbon ahead. Even the oil-rich countries have agreed to this shift promoted by good economic sense. Yet, the litmus test will depend on how the developed countries ratchet up their emission reduction targets and finance through the agreed review process.

In a Statement on August 29 last year, the French President François Hollande had said climate change is “this century’s major challenge.” One is glad that the he has helped shape an agreement that makes the world leaders ink the need to cap earth’s average global temperature rise to less than 2 degree centigrade – with a long term vision of 1.5 degree centigrade.

Yet, with the proof of the agreement lying in hits implementation, there is major work ahead. The Paris agreement is a basic document that still leaves the door wide open on what each country will do with their Intended Nationally Determined Commitments (INDCs) because this is where the nuts and bolts of the agreement will be found. The subsequent COPs and the civil society’s influential role will be key to how much the world gains from this agreement. Meanwhile, the most vulnerable people wait, watch and sacrifice.

About the Author:


The author is the Director (Policy and Partnerships) of Alternative Futures. She is a Policy researcher, communicator, trainer and evaluator. She has over two decades of experience in evidence-based policy research and analysis, developing and managing programmes, monitoring & evaluating and building capacities on climate change, disaster risk reduction and livelihoods of rural and urban poor with a strong gender and inclusion focus.