UN 0, Climate Danger 1

Romain Benicchio

Blog post by Romain Benicchio

Oxfam International, Senior Policy Advisor
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Although the official kick-off has only just taken place and everyone has just finished warming up, the progress of the match between the UN and Climate Danger is already clear.

The first week is for the negotiators, then the ministers arrive next weekend, and finally about 100 heads of state will come to wrap it up at the end of the second week.

Without jumping to too many conclusions, is the result of the match also already known? Would Obama have confirmed his presence at the end of the summit, alongside the other heads of state, if he was not all but certain that he was going to be signing an agreement?

If so, the expected result would be a weak consensus as a matter of necessity, in view of the current positions of the various parties. However, getting the United States back onto the field, in spite of political resistance at home, would be a step forward.

The difficult decisions and ambitious commitments would be put off until a future commitment period, perhaps 2030 or 2050… Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof, after all. Having got the economic crisis under control by dint of G20 statements, the men in high places would end the year in style: a nice perspective photo for December 18th, with 100 heads of state halting the climate danger.

One small point, though: the commitments that are currently on the table, with a range of emission reductions for the rich countries of around 10 to 18%, would leave us on track for a temperature increase of around 3.5 degrees. That’s well past the maximum of 2 degrees that scientists recommend.

The same level of ambition applies to financing our ecological debt to the most vulnerable, who will have to protect themselves against flooding, drought and reduced agricultural yields at a knock-down price: the figure of 10 billion is on the table for the next 3 years, and vague promises after that. We’re a long way from the hundreds of billions needed according to experts from the World Bank and the United Nations. At that price, a catastrophe scenario is guaranteed: 550 million more people hit by famine, and up to 330 million people permanently displaced, to give just two figures.

This cannot happen. There are two weeks left for a rematch.

This blog post was originally published in French: Climat du site de Liberation.fr.