‘State of climate emergency: Ecosystems are going to collapse’
After four years of negotiating the climate change pact, dubbed COP21, delegates from almost 200 countries agreed to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Activists, however, say it's not enough to save the planet from overheating.
Munic described the scene in central Paris as world leaders were putting the final touches on the historic climate change pact.
“I was on the outskirts of Paris with 20,000 people next to the Eiffel Tower who declared a ‘climate emergency’ because the Paris Agreement is going to set us on the path of 3-degree Celsius in the future… instead of the much more desirable 1.5 Celsius,” the head of the climate change watchdog told RT. “We know that if temperatures increase, many ecosystems are going to collapse, and also many parts of the global south, especially in Africa, are going to suffer.”
The 31-page draft of the "Paris Agreement" stated that it "aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change... by holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius [3.6 Fahrenheit] above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius [2.7 Fahrenheit]."
The document, presented to international negotiators on Saturday, advises the global community on the need to increase "the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production."
Asked what global leaders could do differently, Munic said they should be much more ambitious, “particularly in the pre-2020 part of the agreement.” Instead, the delegates opted to postpone any tough decisions; a move Munic predicts will have severe consequences.
“Any postponement is very dangerous because the later we start to have a clear and ambitious action towards the de-carbonization of our economy the consequences are going to be much worse,” she said. “To reach the goal of 1.5 increase of temperature in comparison with pre-industrial levels, we’ll need to have the de-carbonization plans started by 2015, not later in the century.
According to Munic, the text proposes that countries reach an increase of 2-degrees Celsius, and even below that at 1.5, but the proposed actions “are going to fail to deliver that target.”
A large part of the problem, Munic says, is that lobbyists supportive of fossil fuel industries are battling reforms every step of the way.
These lobbyist groups will find themselves “on the wrong side of history,” she said, while emphasizing the positive changes being welcomed from other sectors of the economy.
“History is being made today everywhere around the globe,” she noted. “There are many examples of renewable forms of energy and renewable energy projects and the technology is catching up.
“The most important thing is that this energy can be decentralized and placed under public control. We have to remember there are still 1.3 billion people on the planet who have no access to electricity and the function of the energy systems should be to deliver to those who need it the most.”
The activist then pointed to hypocrisy as another stumbling block that prevents global economies from weaning themselves off fossil fuels.
“World leaders came to Paris and they all talked about we have to make radical changes in how we operate our economy and shift to renewables, but back home we still see – like in my country, I’m Croatian – our government is proposing new coal plants and new pipelines.
“Basically they want to invest in an infrastructure that is going to lock us for the next 20-30 years into fossil fuels, and fossil fuels we have to fight.”
According to Munic, scientists recommend leaving 80 percent of the world’s total fossil fuels “in the ground” lest we want the planet to burn up from out-of-control climate change.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.