Climate Talks at Half Time -- Will Climate and People Win?

Earth globe with flames, symbol for global warming, climate change
Earth globe with flames, symbol for global warming, climate change

COP 21 in Paris is half way through and, after a week when negotiators went backwards and forwards over old arguments around text and commitments, the Draft Paris Outcomes are finally on the table.

Ministers come in today and it will take strong leadership to ensure an agreement in Paris that is fair, ambitious and transformational.

Indeed it is going to be quite a sprint for ministers to secure a strong deal by Friday. The French COP presidency now has the responsibility to take us to the finish line. This will require immense skill and absolute cooperation between governments to mediate differences.

There are questions of principle and questions of ambition.

Will we have an ambitious long term goal that is landed by 2050?

Will we see people, their rights and a commitment to a just transition as the operational base of the opportunities for a better world from this enormous transformation?

Will we see the financing and the differential responsibility shared across nations that ensures inclusive growth and development?

The science dictates the need to act now. Civil society, unions and progressive business are asking for a clear and ambitious signal that will drive transformational action to 2050 and not a goal that puts action to later in the century when it will be too late.

Likewise the test of sincerity by governments lies in the settlement of a review mechanism with assessment of effort and a reconsideration of the current INDCs before they enter into force in 2020.

For people the penalty shoot-out will be serious. At this point implementation commitments have no reference to a just transition and human rights issues remain bracketed which means it is not agreed. There is also no reference to maintaining the integrity and resilience of ecosystems. If the purpose of the agreement is not ultimately to protect people and ecosystems it is hard to understand why a commitment to 2 degrees or less matters?

And for both justice and jobs the $100billion of promised finance is critical both for the means to invest in the solidarity with poorer nations but also to unleash the trillions in green infrastructure, in R&D and new businesses that will create jobs. If the richer governments accept that the $100billion a year in 2020 is a floor for funding beyond 2020 and mobilize resources the necessary foundations for economic transformation for all nations will be in place.

A price on carbon and the removal of fossil fuel subsides which could both create a social dividend for support of vulnerable people a just transition for workers and investment in jobs are still in the outfield but must be brought to touch.

With inequality and global conflict increasing both our societies and the climate at a tipping point. The answers are in front of us but will there be enough stamina in the reserves of political will to win the day?

People say yes with 90 percent of people wanting action on climate and 79 percent supporting action in 12 months or less. That alone should be enough for leaders to stare down the opposition of the fossil fuel companies who refuse to diversify in their own interests and that of the survival of millions of human beings.

With the second half beginning in Paris Monday -- our future is anything but certain.