Beyond COP21

cop21Everyone is celebrating the COP21 agreement — the world’s collective response to climate change. Read the agreement here.

President Obama said: “We’ve transformed the United States into the global leader in fighting climate change,” he declared. “We came together around the strong agreement the world needed. We met the moment.”

The Palestinians say they will submit to the U.N. secretary-general their instruments of accession to the global climate change convention.

The Palestinian ambassador to the U.N., Riyad Mansour, says “we are so proud of this moment.” He says the Palestinians will become the 196th state party to the convention. It is currently an observer state.

Pope Francis on Sunday hailed the UN climate accord reached in Paris but warned the key now lay in its implementation, especially in help for the poor.

If the goal was to reach an agreement — any sort of agreement — then the applause is understandable. One word nearly killed the deal on the very last day.

I wasn’t in Paris and wasn’t part of the effort to reach an agreement, but one participant in the negotiations shared:

The intense work of civil society advocates in lobbying various delegates, in strategizing, in sharing ideas, in reaching consensus was impressive to observe and participate in.

I fully recognize that the COP21 agreement represents a major shift in the global consciousness about climate change.  This NY Times story is a must-read for understanding and appreciating the context and history leading up to the Paris meeting.


If the goal of the COP21 agreement was (is?) to shift the planet away from its current destructive path, then we failed.  (See here and here and here for descriptions of our current path and projections for the future.) 538184_10150847367692709_547417736_n

Why is the COP21 agreement a failure?

  • Even if the parties completely fulfill their aspirational goals to reduce CO2 emissions, we will see an increase of 3 to 5 degrees C in global temperatures by the end of 2100. The media focuses on the discussion in Paris about 1.5 or 2 degrees but that is inconsistent with the specific commitments made by the parties in the agreement.
  • If history is to be our guide, then we know that countries will not meet their aspirational goals. And there’s nothing in the COP21 to hold any country’s feet to the fire. There’s no legally binding enforcement mechanism in COP21. So the planet is more likely to witness global temperatures rising much higher than 3 to 5 degrees C.
  • The bottom line, Earth will not be capable of sustaining life as we know it by the end of this Century with or without the COP21 agreement.

That’s a “take-away” message that the majority of us either can’t comprehend, refuse to believe, or just plainly reject.

"Instead of embracing these grassroots alternatives," writes Munic, "politicians have fallen under the spell of corporations pushing false solutions to climate change." (Photo: Ronnie Hall/Friends of the Earth International)

“Instead of embracing these grassroots alternatives,” writes Munic, “politicians have fallen under the spell of corporations pushing false solutions to climate change.” (Photo: Ronnie Hall/Friends of the Earth International)

So while the mainstream media and some climate negotiators are sharing congratulatory praise for the COP21 success, I want my family and friends to focus on what we must do very quickly to change the path we’re traveling on together.

We need to inform ourselves. We need to act. We need to upset the BAU applecart (“Business-As-Usual”) and do anything it takes to destroy our current fossil fuel economy while rebuilding our local, livable, sustainable communities.

Bill McKibben says:  You’ve got to stop fracking right away (in fact, that may be the greatest imperative of all, since methane gas does its climate damage so fast). You have to start installing solar panels and windmills at a breakneck pace – and all over the world. The huge subsidies doled out to fossil fuel have to end yesterday, and the huge subsidies to renewable energy had better begin tomorrow. You have to raise the price of carbon steeply and quickly, so everyone gets a clear signal to get off of it.

We know what needs to be done, there are no excuses for our failure to act. 522340_535769796438370_364932514_n

Begin by reading or watching This Changes Everything. Then reduce your consumption (power, “stuff” and meat and dairy). Thanks to Chuck McCune for this energy calculator. Get plugged in with others working to set us on the right path such as, Climate Action Network, Citizens Climate Lobby, and many more.

Then  ACT ….. and continue until you draw your last breath. This is our responsibility to those yet unborn in 2050 and beyond.


In Albuquerque with friend Nancy Galloway

November 2011 in front of the White House

(November 2011) In front of the White House

Loaded into the paddy wagon in front of the White House (August 2011)

Mohammed and Lora in Gaza on Earth Day 2013

Mohammed and Lora in Gaza on Earth Day 2013



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