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Urgent Action Must Follow Paris Agreement: Statement by Green Members of Parliament

13 December 2015

The Paris Agreement must be followed immediately by urgent action in emission reductions if the world is to avert dangerous climate change, said Green members of parliament on the conclusion of the UN climate change today.  

Green MPs were commenting on the two documents that emerged from the UN’s COP-21 today, Saturday 13 December – the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the decision adopted at the Conference to implement it. The MPs had met as members of the Global Greens Parliamentarian Association (GGPA), to analyse the text.

“The Paris Agreement is a diplomatic success, no question”, said Dr Richard Di Natale, MP, leader of the Australian Greens. “It brings together the international community for the first time with a coherent set of commitments.  But the question left hanging is whether the implementation structure is adequate to increase the ambition of emission reductions in time”.

Åsa Romson, Sweden’s Green Deputy Prime Minister, who played a major role in the negotiations, thinks we should take the Paris Agreement as a positive platform for future action.  “The diplomatic skill of the French hosts, together with a genuine accord among most countries and willingness to compromise spelled success for this most complex of all negotiations”, she said.

Canadian Green MP, Elizabeth May, agreed.  “The most inspirational part of the Agreement”, she says, “is the commitment to pursue efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C.  This is an essential statement of political intent and a precondition for saving the most vulnerable countries – the landlocked and small island states.  But, the urgent need to ramp up greenhouse gas reductions between 2015 and 2020 has been left out of the agreement.  This is a serious weakness, as is omitting carbon pollution from international aviation and shipping."

Green Party of England and Wales MP Caroline Lucas, added that “while I welcome the fact that agreement has been reached, it’s clear that the hard work starts now - Paris needs to be a turning point, not an end point.  It’s crucial that national governments now start to increase their ambition in terms of emission reduction targets, as well as stepping up with further finance - particularly recognising the key principle of equity.  The most vulnerable countries to climate chaos did little or nothing to cause it, and their demand for support to recognise loss and damage must be honoured.”

Congolese MP, Didace Pembe, also noted that the Agreement did not advance the cause of climate finance to any discernible extent.  “So long as the finance flows fall short of the agreed $100 billion per year, poor countries will simply be unable to play their part in the global effort”, he says.

New Zealand MP Kennedy Graham, convenor of GGPA, noted that the challenge remains for each country to engage in immediate improvement in their national commitments.  “The Agreement itself notes that current pledges are above the temperature threshold. The science says global emissions must peak before 2020 but the Agreement simply calls for peaking ‘as soon as possible’, and the review does not commence until 2023.  That will not avert dangerous climate change.”

The GGPA agreed to develop a Climate Protection Action Plan for 2016, composed of three goals: improving national emission curbs or reductions; encouraging divestment and terminating subsidies of fossil fuels.  

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