GGJ-Roots-color-4x4-webUNFCCC COP 21 – PARIS, 2015

Grassroots Global Justice Alliance and the It Takes Roots to Weather the Storm Delegation call on President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and US lead negotiator Todd Stern to make binding commitments in response to both science and the demands of frontline communities to:

  1. Establish mandatory–not voluntary–emissions cuts at the source
  2. Leave fossil fuels in the ground
  3. Reject Fracking, Nuclear Power, Carbon Markets, and other dangerous technologies and false solutions
  4. Strengthen the inclusion of human rights and particularly the rights of Indigenous Peoples
  5. Support Community-Rooted Solutions; including regional and local economic structures that support the production of renewable energy

1. Establish Mandatory—not voluntary— Emissions cuts at the source.

The UNFCCC should be holding all nations accountable; especially the wealthiest nations that are the largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions and have a historic responsibility.  The United Nations Environment Program’s Emissions Gap report and other studies show that to be consistent with a trajectory that limits the increase of the temperature to 2ºC, global greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced to 44 Gigatons (Gt) of CO2e by 2020, to 40 by 2025 and then to 35 by 2030. This is the minimal cap that is needed to avoid a global future that is too dire to imagine. The UNFCCC’s draft text does not reference these figures and only mentions proposals related to percentage reductions for the next fifty years which are nowhere near sufficient to the action that needs to be taken.  The effects we experience are cumulative from the time that industrialization began its sharp increase in emissions.  Therefore, we support the principle of Common and Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities, recognizing that all nations must take action to reduce emissions and that the US and G7 nations that have historically emitted the highest levels of greenhouse gases must take the lion’s share of mandatory emissions cuts.  

2. Leave the fossil fuels in the Ground

It is well known that to achieve the goal to limit the temperature increase to below 2ºC, we need to leave 80% of the current known fossil fuel reserves under the ground.  We call on the Parties to adopt a limitation on fossil fuel extraction requiring that 80% of all oil, coal and gas reserves be left in the ground.   The word “fossil fuels” only appears twice throughout the text and only in reference to the reduction of fossil fuel subsidies.  It is critical to both restrict the financial subsidizing of fossil fuels, as well as imposing direct regulation against fossil fuel extraction period.  It is impossible to make genuine, deep emission cuts if the fossil fuel industry is not confronted head on.

3. Reject Fracking, Nuclear Power, Carbon Markets, and other dangerous technologies and false solutions

Despite the clear failure of carbon markets, the proposals on the table in Bonn and Paris are all about how to enhance the current market mechanisms and develop new ones, including the development of high risk technologies.  False solutions abound like carbon trading, carbon offsets, “climate smart” agriculture, REDD+, Carbon Capture and Storage and ‘clean’ coal, bioenergy, nuclear, synthetic biology, geo-engineering, fracking and other technological proposals that pose serious ecological risks.

4. Strengthen the Paris Accord to include human rights and particularly the rights of Indigenous peoples in the operational provisions of the 2015 agreement.

Climate change is a global threat to human rights. Now is the time to fully integrate rights protections in the climate regime. We acknowledge the reference in the draft negotiating text to  human rights, Indigenous Peoples rights, and gender, which stresses that “all actions to address climate change and all the processes established under this agreement should ensure a gender-responsive approach, take into account environmental integrity, the protection of the integrity of Mother Earth, and respect human rights, the right to development and the rights of Indigenous peoples.”  This language must remain in the agreement throughout the negotiations, and be strengthened through deep operational provisions that require compliance from the Parties.

5. Support Community-Rooted Solutions; including building regional and local economic structures that support the production of renewable energy equipment such as panels and wind turbines

As those first and most impacted by the storms, floods and droughts, communities of color and low-income communities are also at the forefront of the fight against the pollution, poverty, police violence, land grabs, water shutoffs, forced migration, and human rights violations symptomatic of the climate crises. Which is why our communities are uniting for a Just Transition away from the “dig, burn, dump” economy and towards local, living economies that meet the material needs of people and where communities and workers are in charge.   Any global climate agreement must support Just Transition strategies globally and within the US.  We call on the US government delegation both to fulfill commitments to pay our climate debt to global frontline communities, and  to support and move money to community-led priorities and local infrastructure needs to build sustainable community economies, energy democracy, zero waste, food justice, clean public transit and affordable housing – pathways that can create millions of long-term jobs and put our communities back to work.