Agreement at the COP21, but challenges ahead

After two weeks of intense negotiations, the COP21 is ending with an agreement. It may not be the agreement we had hoped for, or one that reflects the height of the large citizen mobilizations that happened in the lead-up to the COP21, but it is an agreement that we must work with. The main weak points of the agreement are the following: low greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets pre- and post-2020; the absence of mechanisms that allow for the improvement of actual targets and of “ambitious mechanisms” that would oblige countries to announce new commitments that are continually greater; and, in particular, the lack of financial and technical support pre- and post-2020 to countries in the Global South so they can face the impacts of climate change. In addition, it is not a binding agreement, rather everything rests on the good will of the participating countries.

The strength of the COP21, however, was never what would go one inside the walls of Le Bourget (where the negotiations were being held), but the force of the citizen mobilization that surrounded the climate conference. People are genuinely worried about climate change and want strong action from their governments, and they are prepared to change their own lifestyles and consumption habits to create change. The success of the movement to fight against climate change will not be the result of the international agreement, but the pressure that citizens place on their governments to act and our individual and collective capacity to change our own behaviours.

Development and Peace’s reaction to the outcomes so far at the COP21: