It’s been an amazing last couple days at the COP21 discussions. Friday saw a downturn in the general energy of the negotiations due to the possibility of removing language from article 2.2 that addresses gender, human rights, a just transition for workers and indigenous rights. Several countries were pushing to move this from the operative text to the preamble, which is not enforceable.
Happily, we heard from state department contacts who emphasized that the U.S., including Pres. Obama, want to see every one of these in the text and that the agreement will have these key components:
1. Fair to all countries
3. Strong accountability and transparency
4. Highlights adaptation and resilience
5. Financing available
Yesterday, Al Gore emphasized in a large briefing, as well as in a small morning gathering of Climate Reality trainers, that we should not be discouraged – things always look bleak about this time in the negotiations, but he was feeling confident that we would leave with a strong agreement. He cited a couple of reasons why:
• We have never had 150 heads of state show up at the climate negotiations, and not one mentioned climate denial
• We have never had the significant involvement of business and investors at negotiations that we do now
• A full 75% of new U.S. electricity production last year was wind and solar; worldwide new electricity production was over 50% renewable
• Rio is already a binding agreement in place, so we don’t have to worry about trying to ratify this through Congress
Speaking of Congress, we saw a strong show of solidarity from 10 U.S. Senators at COP21 yesterday, led by the Chair of the delegation Sen. Cardin (D-MD), who said, “we are here because of the urgency of the issue and to show our solid support of the administration. We will not go back. Solving climate change is important for our health, our economy and our national security.”
He was joined by:
Sen. Coons (D-DL)
Sen. Booker (D-NJ)
Sen. Franken (D-MN)
Sen. Schatz (D-HI)
Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI)
Sen. Merkley (D-OR)
Sen. Shaheen (D-NH)
Sen. Markey (D-MA)
Sen. Udall (D-NM)
All expressed their support for these negotiations as well as the Clean Power Plan, and thanked the business leaders who have stepped forward in support of U.S. climate policy as well.
After this event, Ceres hosted an event with three Senators – Sen. Whitehouse, Sen. Schatz and Sen. Shaheen – and eight businesses: Facebook, PG & E, Ben & Jerry’s, Kellogg, VF Corp, Citi, Dignity Health and Vulcon Corp. Sen. Schatz emphasized that business is changing politics and that business and government need to have a real working relationship to solve the climate crisis together. He said they could not possibly have implemented the Clean Power Plan without the support of business, and that they will be the key for success. Businesses and political leaders must have each others backs if we are to be successful. In photos, the business leaders put their hands on the backs of Senators to symbolize that they “have their backs.” Saturday ended on a much more hopeful note for success and cooperation in these negotiations.
We acknowledge the strong corporate leadership in MN and especially appreciate our relationship with Best Buy, which has supported our delegation to the COP21 negotiations and has not only signed on to the American Business Act on Climate pledge, but has also laid out significant carbon reductions for their business. It’s these kinds of partnerships that are the way forward for climate action!