It dawned on me this morning that there isn’t any sign of nations improving upon their commitments to get any closer to the 2C target at this #COP21 event, let alone the 1.5C target or lower. Most of the emphasis from governments and non-governmental organizations is on everything but that. They seek a reference to 1.5C, or they seek compensation for loss and damage from climate impacts, or they seek the inclusion of this or that principle, or for this or that wording around a long term emissions reduction goal, but I don’t hear people asking for nations to actually, simply, revise their collective commitments to be in line with the science. Not even the UN’s own science (via the ever-conservative IPCC process). I suppose that there are a couple more days left for this kind of breakthrough to emerge, but considering where all the energy is directed in these negotiations, I don’t see it happening. What I do see is nations angling for language in the agreement that is most favorable to their own self interest and economic plans over the next 10 years or so.
They are perpetually trying to lessen the economic upheaval and wealth relocation that a full scale wartime mobilization to materially address climate change requires. Wealthy nations are also highly resistant to the prospect of paying reparations for their contributions to climate change induced catastrophic death and damages to nations who had a negligible role in their creation. I always find it so ironic that I grew up in a nation and culture that values fairness and justice– with the US even held up (less and less these days) as a global model of such, and yet when I grow up and bear witness to the beginnings of perhaps the greatest global injustice ever caused by humans upon each other, I find my nation running away from its moral duty to make it right (despite Obama’s high language at the beginning of COP21 taking responsibility for much of the climate problem). It feels like a grand bait and switch. I feel let down by my nation. We know we must do better than this, we know how to do better than this, and our moral instincts will never let us off the hook. I will continue to bear witness.