Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 12, 2015

Contacts:  Clare Lakewood, +1 (415) 316-8615, (Paris)
Patrick Sullivan, (415) 517-9364, (San Francisco)

Weak Paris Climate Deal Won't Protect Planet's Poorest People, Web of Life

LE BOURGET, France— In response to the final agreement reached today at the United Nations COP21 climate conference, Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute released the following statement.

“The plain truth is that Paris didn’t produce the strong, just and binding treaty we need to protect the planet’s most climate-vulnerable people and our very web of life from climate chaos. But the summit did highlight the growing power of a global movement for true climate justice.

“Grassroots activists around the world will move forward with hope and urgency to push developed nations like the U.S. to leapfrog over this weak agreement, keep fossil fuels in the ground, and achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. U.S. groups will hold our own government accountable for enforcing ambitious climate targets domestically.

“The very survival of the planet’s most vulnerable countries requires us to cut pollution fast enough to limit warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. Allowing global temperatures to rise beyond that would threaten the lives of millions of people and push countless plants and animals over the edge of extinction.

“This agreement nods to the urgent need to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, but the pollution-cutting pledges  in this deal won’t get us anywhere near that critical goal. It’s like setting up a household budget and then planning to outspend it several times over.

“It’s up to the American public to enforce their government’s international climate promises back home. It’s on us to compel our government to keep fossil fuels in the ground, ban fracking, and get to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. Closed-door climate negotiations can’t achieve what we can in town halls, courtrooms and in the streets. 

“The movements to ban fracking and keep fossil fuels in the ground are creating the pressure needed to end carbon pollution and address the fundamental justice issues at the heart of the climate problem. The transformation has begun, and we will make the world a better place.”

Siegel also addressed four major flaws in the new Paris agreement:

  • Inadequate pollution-cutting pledges: “The Obama administration simply refused to do its fair share to fight climate change. Based on our history of emissions, the U.S. pollution-cutting pledge was only about 20 percent of what’s required by fairness and science. The current pledge falls horrendously short.”
  • Omission of pollution from airplanes and ships: “By failing to vigorously confront emissions from planes and ships, the Paris agreement shrugs off two of the fastest-growing sources of planet-warming pollution. Letting the airline industry off the hook is especially appalling. If we don’t curb airplane pollution, climate chaos will threaten the world’s poorest communities, who are least responsible for the problem.”
  • Attempt to limit loss and damage compensation: “The United States committed a moral outrage by pressuring the most vulnerable countries to sign away their rights to be compensated for damage caused by climate disruption.”
  • Weak long-term goal: “It is not enough to say countries should pursue efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 C. We need action, not aspirations, to respond quickly to climate chaos. Nations must commit to regularly strengthening their pollution-cutting commitments to avoid the most dangerous effects of global warming.”

The Center’s Climate Law Institute was founded to confront global warming, which poses the greatest threat in human history to the natural systems that sustain life. For more information about the Center’s work in Paris, go here. For more about the need to cut airplane pollution, go here.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of the Earth’s biodiversity.

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