A Message Home to the US: What Actually Happened at COP21

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by Morgan Heckerd

Over the past two weeks 196 governments have spent hours within consultation rooms and plenary halls in efforts of reaching an agreement. They are here in Paris because they know that the era of emissions need to come to an end. The urgency of climate change is no longer a concept that they can deny.

But– the developed countries have fallen short in adopting the demands of urgency. The Parties have demonstrated that they have heard the affirmations of science, equity and justice. The major issue is that these parties have failed to commit to ambitious contributions. They are willing to increase the global ambition (and call for 1.5º), but from that they have not declared that they will increase their own share to make up this gap. They may be prepared to follow a movement but they are certainly not prepared to lead it. The leadership will come from the millions of people around the world who know how drastic the reform must be.

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From today’s D12 “Red lines” protest



As the world’s largest historical emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, the United States is emblematic of the lack of ambition. Over the past two weeks they have refused to commit to their fair share. According to the CSO equity review the States’ commitment was only 20 percent of what it should have in respect to science and equity. We’ve witnessed the U.S. blame developing countries for climate change and claim that these countries are not doing enough to pick up the slack of the U.S.

Despite what most media has been saying recently, the U.S. is doing far less of its fair share than the developing polluters like China and India. This shifting of responsibility onto the developing world is simply preposterous. The cost of transition to zero emissions is extremely costly for developing countries– not only in terms of money but in terms of life quality for their people. To ask these countries to mitigate at the same rate as the developed world leaves billions underneath the poverty line. It tells them, “we don’t care about your quality of life. We demand you to remain silent as we take away your right to develop.” While developing countries want to develop, many recognize that they don’t wish to become the dirty and climate-causing developed nations. Over the past 11 days the U.S. has held the rest of the world back by denying to pay the climate finance they owe. Unless we do our fair share of mitigation, and finance the developing parties are very restricted in what commitments they can make.

The question I’m left asking myself is: How will the world win this battle it’s in with climate change?

It is going to be a hard fight, but it is a fight we have to win. That is why I am coming home from Paris: to rally people to take to the streets to demand what is necessary.



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D12 Red Lines at Arc de Triomphe


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Red Lines protest marched to the Eiffel Tower


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