As the dust settled in Paris on Sunday following the adoption of a landmark global climate agreement (pdf), the question remains, what happens next now that the world has reportedly reached the “end of the fossil fuel era?” And for many, the answer is simple: Kick the big corporate polluters out of the policy-making process—once and for all.
Among the COP21 pact’s many shortcomings, according to environmental campaigners, is that it sets the aspirational goal of limiting temperature increase to 1.5°C without providing any “meaningful” direction to how that is achieved.
Countries have essentially been left to their own devices to meet their individual greenhouse gas reduction targets, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (or INDCs). In reality, scientists have said that these individual pledges are not enough to reach the internationally agreed-upon goal of limiting warming “well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.”
With that in mind, campaigners say that the next essential step is for governments to decouple climate policy from those who benefit most from an economy based on fossil fuels.
“For climate policy— including the Paris Agreement—to compel the rapid transition our planet so desperately needs, we must first address this conflict of interest,” said Jesse Bragg, media director for international corporate watchdog Corporate Accountability International.
“At the national level, emissions-intensive corporations have shaped our policies in their interest for decades and obscured their impacts on the environment. And, at the international level, these same corporations have forced themselves into every aspect of policymaking to not only influence policy outcomes but greenwash their otherwise dirty track records,” he stated.
Before and during the COP21 negotiations, much focus was placed on the out-sized role that the conference’s corporate sponsors had in shaping the agreement.
“We must take back our democratic processes and ensure they are working for people and the environment, not big polluter profits,” Bragg added.
Indigenous leaders also issued a statement slamming the pact as little more than a “trade agreement” between the planet, rich nations, and corporations—one that “commodifies nature” at the expense of those who live on the front lines of climate change.
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