Delegates at the annual UN climate change conference have failed to deliver strong commitments for essential action to save our planet.
Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP, met in the Polish city of Katowice, 2-14 December 2018. The meeting came after the release of the Special Report by the International Panel on Climate Change on the scenario of 1.5°C global warming. That report showed the urgency for greater ambition and the need for a transformation of the global economy.
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Caritas is disappointed at the reluctance of some governments to endorse the findings of the IPCC Special Report. We believe the report is scientific basis for resolute climate action. “Hard political stances – often hiding strong economic interests – weakened the outcome into a package insufficient to protect present and future generations from environmental catastrophe,” said Adriana Opromolla, Food Security and Climate Change advocacy officer at Caritas Internationalis.
The Talanoa Dialogue, a new “indigenous” style of promoting more open dialogue in the official process, is welcomed. However, it’s still unclear how this can lead to change for the poorest. Caritas hopes that this spirit will be maintained in the preparation of the 2019 UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit. We want to see the dialogue improved with meaningful participation of front-line communities and civil society. We think this could lead to concrete commitments.
Human rights not reflected in COP decisions
Vulnerable people have their human rights constantly threatened by the effects of climate change. The Preamble of the Paris Agreement reaffirmed a set of principles including the rights of indigenous peoples. Food security, transition and intergenerational equity were also included. Caritas is disappointed that the COP24 final decisions do not reflect these essential rights. We are worried at seeing governments still debating about such fundamental principles.
However, public participation and the invitation for governments to consider local and indigenous communities and traditional knowledge in the planning of climate projects is a first step towards inclusive climate plans. Caritas welcomes the initiation of the ‘Local Communities and Indigenous Platform’. We hope this will ensure that the experience of traditional communities informs decisions on climate. Recognising indigenous people’s land rights is one of the most effective ways to protect carbon sinks and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
On finance, it’s welcome that the conclusion recalls the need to scale up the mobilisation of resources by developed countries, including finance for adaptation. However, available resources are still insufficient to support developing countries’ efforts or to back their adaptation plans. The conference also failed to clarify how the climate finance objective after 2025 will be agreed. The refusal to include any reference to the issue of ‘Loss and Damage’ in the final conclusion is a worrisome step back.
Caritas urges developed countries to meet their pledges as soon as possible. In the meantime they should establish ambitious climate finance commitments. This would be an expression of responsibility and solidarity with the communities that are already intensely suffering the effects of global warming.
Follow the Caritas Twitter account for further reaction from the COP24 meeting.
Watch Caritas partners in Kenya, Pakistan and Tonga explain how climate change is affecting people in their countries today: