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A fossil fuel free world should be front and centre for us all in 2015: Christine Milne

The Lima climate talks did not go far enough to engender confidence for an ambitious global pact in Paris, but it has pulled negotiations back from the brink of collapse.

If this UN process is to change for the better, we must accept that two realities are being lived by rich and poor nations, and Australia must stop being miserly and obstructive.

Developed countries want to focus on mitigation. The developing world, like our Pacific Island neighbours, are struggling with the impacts of ever worsening extreme weather events, as well as sea level rise, and want more focus on climate finance, adaptation, loss and damage. 

It is these poorest and least developed countries that did nothing historically to cause the problem, which have the least capacity to cope now. The issues of climate finance and loss and damage will not go away. Failure to address them will jeopardise a good agreement in Paris. It is proof that failure to act on climate costs more. 

One disappointment for me was that the rest of the world allowed Australia to get away with rorting the accounting rules yet again on land use (LULUCF). It was bad enough that it happened with the Kyoto Protocol first commitment period, but allowing it to carry over into the second means Australia will have to do very little to achieve its 5% emissions reduction target to 2020.

As to the overall negotiations, it is time to rethink the Presidential, top down, style of negotiating, where in the face of bogged down negotiations the COP President develops his or her own agreement and tries to deliver it to the rest of the world. This isn’t the way it was pre-Copenhagen and the method has proven itself a failure. We need to go back to putting a representative of all blocs in a room and letting them work it out. 

There will be sadness and frustration that these talks have again prioritised short term national economic self-interest over the global commons or common interest, but what Lima has done is reinforce the power of civil society to bring about change in spite of governments, not because of them. 

As with other COPs, the Peoples Climate March was fantastic with 15,000 people taking part. I enjoyed being there with people from all over South America, but particularly people from Peru who were protesting the loss of glaciers and highlighting water and food security. It was terrific to have a Global Greens contingent in the March. 

Whether governments like it or not, the divestment movement is gaining momentum. With a phase out of fossil fuels in the mix for Paris it will be part of the global conversation in 2015, and this is where we Greens in Australia need the Global Greens to be on the ball. Australia will try to have the phase out of fossil fuel use removed from the text. It is critical Greens from all over the world influence their governments not to give in to the fossil fuel nations like Australia and Canada.

A fossil fuel free world by 2050 should be front and centre for us all in 2015. Without it we have no hope of constraining global warming to two degrees.

Senator Christine Milne
Leader of the Australian Greens

12/22/2014 – 10:21


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