COP 21: Report From An Observer


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The Paris Agreement is a success. It’s not perfect, but it’s good and given all the challenges, good is better than I’d hoped for.

The Good: This is the first time every nation on the planet has come to an agreement. And while that was looking less and less likely after the first week, it came together because of a shared sense of desperation and desire to hope for a future generation. There was a lot of common ground. A lot. And as I understand the UN process, this is rare. The energy on site was high and hopeful and, frankly, more ambitious than I expected. Creating a just Agreement was a key part of the conversation. And, in the end, what we have is good. It’s not perfect, but I don’t think it’s fair to expect government to solve this alone. I think they did the best they could do given far more moving parts than I can count. Really- this was extremely complicated. The U.S. did a good job on some key elements like accountability and transparency moving forward.

The Bad: The U.S. pulled away from any accountability for our role in creating the crisis. There is a section on Damage and Loss. That section was in danger of not existing at all. The U.S. ensured it was there (with the help of the faith community), but liability and compensation were eliminated, which, in my opinion, falls far short of the ideal morally. I’m also sorry that justice for indigenous people didn’t make it out of the preamble.

The Undecided: The Paris Agreement relies on each nation to step up on their own. The goals have been set and I think they’re good, but the ability to reach those goals relies on national initiatives. How well nations- including ours — really own their part in this is sti上海千花坊

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ll to be seen.

It’s also critical we remember that government can only do so much. They aren’t going to fix this problem. Given the multidimensional nature of these negotiations, I think they did a good job. It’s not perfect, but it’s good. Even had it been perfect, it wouldn’t have solved the problem. Society has many parts. We need to do ours. Corporations need to do theirs. The faith community has a key role to play in this; we need to use our voice to propel the movement.

One more thing. Weeks before Paris I was invited into talks about messaging with other environmental groups. The conversation was all about declaring Paris a failure. They were poised and ready and have stuck to that message. I have a lot of problems with both the assumption of failure before the work started and the negative messaging that has persisted even in the face of some very good work. 1) Government can’t do it all; 2) This was unbearably complicated and people worked literally day and night, and they were all working in good faith; 3) This Agreement isn’t the end; it’s the beginning. It opened doors and now we have to step through.

It’s our job上海419

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to move this forward. I am confident we can and will do what needs to be done to create the necessary transformation.