An Historic Decision for the World

UN photo

UN photo

I was privileged to attend the first week of the COP21 in Paris on Climate Change as a delegate for Franciscans International, and I monitored for ERI networks the second week of decisions, when the draft text was refashioned by the politicians into the final Paris Agreement and Decisions. It was a tremendous process of the world making a decision that will ensure, I hope, a safer and more secure future for us all.

Like all human decisions involving the whole human race and the planet, it was bound to be messy, difficult and far from perfect. But it is a major step forward. In the words of the Chair, as he concluded the process, the Agreement is ‘differentiated, just, dynamic, sustainable and legally binding’. The massive swing to use our fossil fuel reserves which began two centuries ago seems finally to have been reversed.

Many of you have been part of the Paris process, and some of you for many decades. Thanks for your Earth Day celebrations, your marches and letters, emails and lobbying, that have led us to this decision. The Agreement is the outcome of a massive advocacy movement for human rights and Earth itself.

Like any important world decision, this one will create waves for decades to come. We have to ensure our governments honor their promises and pledges. As civil society, we need to monitor and review progress in reducing Climate Change, especially for those most affected by it. The emission reduction targets we’ve collectively set are still way too low to keep the temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, and so too low to keep small island countries and large coastal cities safe from rising seas. Let’s act both locally and globally on this target.

Many hundreds of thousands have already died from Climate Change. The world has responded, slowly and hesitantly, but with increasing conviction. Let’s keep the voices of those most at risk ringing in our ears as we take up the challenge of Paris 2015.

– Moy Hitchen cfc

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