Climate talks 'out of touch with reality'

13 December 2019

Rich countries seek to gut Paris Agreement

Prospects for vulnerable communities in the global South look dire, as wealthy countries refuse to pay up for the climate damage they have caused and Northern governments and corporations push forward carbon trading, says Friends of the Earth International as another round of deeply disappointing world climate talks draw to a close.

The environmental justice federation said that the repression of peoples' demands in Chile – where the UN talks were due to take place until being moved to Madrid – has been echoed by the silencing of civil society voices in a climate summit that has been out of touch with reality.

Susann Scherbarth, climate justice campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said:

"It's outrageous the European Union wants us to believe it's putting 'a man on the moon' with its new Green Deal proposals, but in the global arena it is falling far short of its fair share of climate action.

"Europe is clinging to failed carbon trading and offsetting mechanisms which are a distraction from the real emission reductions we urgently need.

"This COP has been another chance lost to listen to the people on the streets demanding climate justice, and every missed opportunity closes the window for action and means more irreversible climate impacts around the globe.

"The climate talks will take place in Europe again next year, for the fourth time running, and from now til then we will keep up the pressure on governments to deliver urgent transformative action to create sustainable societies within the Earth's limits."

Sara Shaw, Climate Justice and Energy Programme Coordinator for Friends of the Earth International, said:

"Just as we thought the slow pace and weak ambition shown at the climate talks couldn't get worse, along comes COP25. Here, we have witnessed the gutting of the already weak Paris Agreement, with the advance of dodgy carbon trading that will only exacerbate the climate crisis and harm Southern communities. And we have seen a refusal by developed countries to pay up for loss and damage finance, while they try to introduce language that would remove their liability for the impacts their emissions have caused."

"We are furious that while so many are already suffering the impacts of climate change, corporations and rich country governments are working to destroy any hope of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees. And when we stood up in peaceful protest at COP25, we were aggressively suppressed."

With the carbon 'budget' for 1.5 degrees pretty much exhausted, the chances of keeping the planet at a liveable temperature for all are on a knife's edge. But still, the rich countries that created the climate crisis in the first place are using loopholes to evade emissions cuts rather than keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

The carbon markets agreement that could be pushed through at COP will not reduce emissions, and may even increase them.

The big polluters who are really set to gain from market mechanisms, like Shell, Chevron and BP, have been out in force at COP25. Carbon markets will allow big polluters to wash themselves green while continuing business as usual for decades to come, sacrificing vulnerable communities on the way. COP25 should also have delivered urgent support, including finance, for Southern countries already suffering loss and damage from climate breakdown. Instead, the response of Northern countries and elites everywhere is to sacrifice the global majority: the lives and livelihoods of the many to pay for the lifestyles of the few.

Karin Nansen, Friends of the Earth International Chair, from Uruguay, commented:

"The 'ambition' claimed by developed country governments is a false one. They are serving the interests of corporations aiming to profit from the crisis and secure capital accumulation. The voices of people defending the rights of Indigenous Peoples, women and Southern communities were aggressively pushed out of the COP in a clear attempt to silence them. But peoples - in Madrid, Santiago, and around the world - are rising up and will continue to fight for environmental, social, gender and economic justice and system change. We will continue to demand that governments be accountable to people, not to corporate polluters."

Next year, the UN climate talks will again be in Europe. COP26 takes place in Glasgow, Scotland.