“Climate change is not happening in the future, it is happening now. We cannot continue to try to solve these urgent systemic challenges with vague and voluntary promises. We need to recognize that this agreement prioritizes the voices of a few, that the demands and interests of a majority of developing countries have been traded in. That the recognition of human rights and gender equality was erased from the core of the agreement. And yet the world needs hope, so to the world we can only say this is the best outcome we could get in an unjust and imperfect world. But my hope is in the movement that pushed for this best outcome, and who refuse to be silenced in calling out what it lacks. The amazing activists we work with everyday who will never give up or give in, who will never give up on our beautiful planet. My hope is with them.” – Bridget Burns, WEDO Co-Director
A Reality Check on the Paris Agreement: Response from the Women and Gender Constituency (WGC)
12 December 2015
As the Women and Gender Constituency, we came to this process asking one question: what is the purpose of a global climate agreement if not to save people and the planet?
We see that the world wants hope, that we want to congratulate ourselves for moving forward with this process, but leaders, we are here for a reality check. This agreement fundamentally does not address the needs of the most vulnerable countries, communities and people of the world. It fails to address the structures of injustice and inequality which have caused the climate crisis and hold the historical polluters sufficiently to account.
We know that climate change is the greatest threat to rights in our time, and we know that women often bear the brunt of these impacts. We have made progress under this Convention in understanding and responding to the gendered impacts of climate change in the last few years. We believe that operational language on gender equality, alongside other fundamental rights, in Article 2, defining the purpose of the agreement, would have gone far to ensure that all forthcoming climate actions take into account the rights, needs and perspectives of women and men and encourage women’s full and equal participation in decision-making. This was the moment to set the right path, the just path for climate action.
Critical issues like clear emission reductions without offsetting and misleading market approaches; ensuring the quality of technologies which should be safe and socially and environmentally sound; the quality of and a goal for scaling up adequate and predictable, largely public finance; the responsibilities of developed countries to take the lead, the responsibility to protect people’s rights and our ecosystems, have been either surgically removed throughout the text or lack specificity. That we are not protecting food security but instead are protecting food production – and the business interests that have lobbied hard in our home countries – is a clear indication that only certain segments of our population are meant to be served by this agreement.
Governments maintained their commitment to corporations over people and signaled opportunities for profit to be made from crisis.
We know we need to stay below 1.5 degrees for a chance at survival, and we recognize the importance of seeing this goal in the final Paris Agreement. But seeing this goal on paper is not enough. We demand it in actions as the proof of the full commitment to that goal, not a vague aspiration. If not significantly ramped up, countries’ collective emissions plans lead us to the prospect of a 3.2 – 3.7 degree rise.
Furthermore, the Paris Agreement served to undermine the concept of international solidarity – a founding principle of the UN that requires differentiation amongst states in a way that should lead to redistribution and shared prosperity.
It is clear that in Paris we have not found the political will to make the Paris Agreement the platform the world truly needs to tackle this urgent challenge.
We will not be silenced from telling the truth to power, to highlight the lack of ambition and injustice in this agreement.
We will never give up on our beautiful planet. We will never give up on our demand for climate justice.
This agreement has failed to embrace and respond to this moment for urgent and just transitions, but we have not. We have used this space of international policy-making to raise our voices and embolden our movements.
Together, we will continue to challenge injustice for the protection of the people and the planet: Another world is possible!