The UN Climate Meeting Was A Huge Disappointment

Delegates to the United Nations have finally returned home after a two-week-long exhausting slog toward an international agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions and fight global climate change.

The conference was supposed to be a milestone in Earth’s climate history — a chance to curb carbon output in time to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Given all the high powered representatives at the meeting, though, it was a huge disappointment. There are at least two big problems with the draft as it is, according to environmental organisations and activists.

Australia’s trade minister Andrew Robb met with business officials at the meeting in Peru and said Australia won’t sign up to any new agreements unless trade competitors deliver comparable outcomes.

“Outcomes must be comparable… We are not going to get it in the neck and increase our costs for nothing,” Robb said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who also attended the UN climate change meeting said, “We do what we say. That’s our track record and we expect the same of others.”

“That’s why our negotiating team is here, to determine that the major emitters and indeed our trading competitors and our trading partners will likewise commit to real action on climate change. Australia should not and will not go this alone,” she said.

Here’s what some key environmental players have had to say about the deal:

International environmental organisation published an article Monday titled “5 Things You Need To Know From The UN Climate Agreement.” Their five points, excerpted below, are a telling glimpse into the major problems with the draft — particularly the first three:

  1. The new agreement does not reflect the urgency of the climate crisis.
  2. Some good agreements — but no measures to ensure implementation.
  3. Least developed and vulnerable nations left out in the cold.
  4. Divestment is more important than ever.
  5. Global momentum for real solutions is stronger than ever and will keep on going.
REUTERS/ Mariana BazoA protester at the People’s Climate March in Lima, Peru, on Dec. 10, 2014. Thousands took to the streets of Lima to protest climate change during the UN climate conference.

Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist who writes for Slate, published an opinion piece on Sunday decrying the weak language in the draft. He writes:

The wording of the Lima text, in combination with the fact that any global deal almost certainly won’t have legal force (because the U.S. Congress would never ratify a legally-binding climate treaty), means that whatever comes out of Paris — the site of the next climate summit, in 2015 — probably won’t be a game-changer.

Samantha Smith, of the World Wildlife Fund, released a scathing statement Sunday on the climate agreement, which included the following criticism:

Governments crucially failed to agree on specific plans to cut emissions before 2020 that would have laid the groundwork for ending the fossil fuel era and accelerated the move toward renewable energy and increased energy efficiency.

The science is clear that delaying action until 2020 will make it near impossible to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, yet political expediency won over scientific urgency. Instead of leadership, they delivered a lackluster plan with little scientific relevancy.

Others took to social media to air their opinions of the outcome. Here’s some of what we found on Twitter:

Over the next few months, we’ll start to get a sense of how things will go at Paris as participating nations begin submitting their emissions reduction plans.

Paris will be the real test, the place where negotiators will use the Lima draft to hash out their final agreement — but if these activists have anything to say about it, there may not be much to look forward to.

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