11 December, 2019Brian Kohler reports from COP25
Anger boiled over today, with civil society observers – including trade unions – coming together in protest outside of the afternoon’s plenary. The anger stems from the inability of this COP to solve seemingly simple issues. Among these are finance (including finance for loss and damage due to climate change), commitments to new ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions with Just Transition embedded in them, and a continuing failure to resolve a fair and transparent rule book for emissions trading that embeds human rights and does not create a huge loophole in the Paris Agreement.
As the second week continues, the space for civil society participation has been narrowing, and that contributes to the feeling of anger as well.
Everyone seems to agree that urgent action is needed, yet I fail to see that being translated into resolving the outstanding issues of this COP25. Something ... leadership? courage? energy? ... is seriously missing here in Madrid. Or seems to be. There is still time for the political leaders to prove me wrong, and emerge from their closed sessions with a viable answer to these questions.
At the morning trade union caucus, besides the usual round of reports, we heard about the need for a Just Transition for farmers. Although agriculture is not IndustriALL’s area of interest – at least not directly – it is worth paying attention to this important sector. Small farmers are being displaced by agricultural mega-corporations. A couple of large companies control the vast majority of seeds. Unsustainable practices are spreading. Some forty percent of all small farmers are women. Illegal land-grabs are becoming more and more common. Climate change is already impacting farmers, but their resistance to changing their practices is partly economic, partly fear, and partly anger at feeling scapegoated by society. Also consider that a major famine could be the final trigger for economic and political collapse, and create millions of climate refugees. Similar to the industrial sectors we represent, a sustainable agricultural policy is needed in every nation, and a Just Transition programme needs to be in place for farmers, their families, and the communities that rely on them.