COP21 and Agenda21: Communities will dominate 21st Century

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COP21 and Agenda21: Communities will dominate 21st Century

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The Volcan and Théâtre de l’Hôtel de Ville of Le Havre in France  welcomed record 7000 attendees, more than 300 business leaders, NGO representatives, thinkers and change-makers from all over the world,

he Volcan and Théâtre de l’Hôtel de Ville of Le Havre in France  welcomed record 7000 attendees, more than 300 business leaders, NGO representatives, thinkers and change-makers from all over the world,to discover the solutions to build a positive world for future generations in 2030 and present the view points on COP21 in Paris later this year. It was part of the Positive Economy Forum mentored by Jacque Attali, former advisor to the French President and first President of European Bank. Abstract of my talk on COP21, on 18th September 2015 below 

World leaders and climate diplomats are now in 23rd year of climate negotiations. Nearly quarter of century is lost in wordy debates. These negotiations, though aimed at reducing the emissions have resulted in more hype and more emissions- nearly 45 % more Green House Gas ( GHG) emissions than in 1990, a base line agreed in 1997 when Kyoto Protocol in Japan took birth. The annual meetings of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have routinely become raucous jamborees that produce theatrical results including the agreement on the next meeting in yet another country. Now it will be France in 2015.

It is unlikely that any organization, be it profit making or otherwise would ‘keep hope’ in the process and project that has utterly failed over a 23 years, particularly when the stakes are life threatening and endeavour is aimed at saving the life of people by keeping the trajectory of development and growth. Principles of managing the disasters dictate that there is need to reflect on the process, method and strategies followed in negotiations under the auspices of United Nations

Expectations from Paris meeting

Expectations from Paris meeting by end of 2015 are very high but hopes of any concrete results are quite depleted, to say the least. Like in all past climate meetings, there will be an agreement. However, the prospects of that agreement addressing the challenge of limiting the temperature rise by less than 2 degree centigrade by end of current century , through legally binding targets of emission reductions are dismally truncated . Much hyped meetings in Copenhagen in 2009 and later, ended without any meaningful agreement. The emissions continue to grow in the meantime along with the intensity and frequency of the disasters. The world at the end of 2015 would either be on the edge of despair or riding on hype and hope of some kind of miracle.

The root causes

Climate diplomacy for limiting the global warming is unique formidable challenge the international community has taken up to address leveraging UN’s multilateral platform. The core cause of climate change, emissions of the main GHG i.e. carbon dioxide, is intrinsic to the generation of the electricity by burning of fossil fuels that power the world economy. The kernel of the core, however is that the world’s economy has got addicted to fossil fuel. Getting rid of carbon from the human development process, singular model of the present world, particularly when the financial crisis is still looming large in most part of the world, becomes beyond reality.

The objective of getting legally binding agreements with time targeted reduction targets starts becoming a distant and foggy when we consider that 196 countries of the world are at different stages of the development-from stark poverty ridden societies to over consuming luxury economies-and when the access to the development is becoming human rights issue.

The attribute of the UN system that builds consensus on legally binding emission-reductions from every country on the Earth is itself a great liability. Hence using multilateral dialogue under United Nations to arrive at the targeted emission reductions has remained painful pipe-dream. The process has failed. Expecting it to work it in Paris meeting is novice.

Alternative Pathways

Last century has seen remarkable transformations, in short time in number of area that changed the world and the way we live. No global negotiations, not even under UN, were involved in such evolutions.

Putting in place an innovative strategy of financial engineering helped European countries through Marshall Plan, involving smaller number of countries, helped the recovery of the war-torn European society in 1950s and 60s. Structuring and implementing it did not need wider platforms and UN intervention.

Innovations like internet and digital technology prospered through smaller groups and even individual creative leaderships. Technology innovation changed the world without any legally binding targets in just about 20 years, and it continues to evolve for the well-being of the people.

Rajendra Shende

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