The Universal Declaration of Humankind Rights was presented at the Economic Meeting of Aix-en-Provence on the 8th of July with the main problem: Take charge of our future. More specifically, the DHR was presented in session 27: “What governance in a world shaken by climate change? “. This session addresses the refusal to adopt the Paris Agreement by the United States and questions “the governance of the problems induced by climate disruption”.
As part of this event, the following written contribution was communicated.
8th July, 2018
Author: Corinne Lepage
A THREEFOLD OBSERVATION
Climate change is turning the world upside down: the series of extreme climatic events with human tragedies and associated astronomical costs which – according to the oceanic and atmospheric agency – total around $306 billion, while according to the reinsurer ‘Munich Re’ they total $330 billion for the year 2017 (i.e. a record of more than double the cost of the year 2016 or 1720 € per second). However, the world continues to increase its greenhouse gas emissions, despite increasingly alarming reports from climate and biodiversity scientists.
The observation is that global climate governance is relatively powerless
The current governance is powerless for respecting and enforcing the commitments made by the Paris Agreement, and we can only have a great deal of concern regarding the two processes that are due to end in 2018, namely the affirmation of the ‘Rulebook on North-South cooperation mechanisms’ and the ‘Talanoa Dialogue’ to make the first assessment of the contributions of States within the framework of the Paris Agreement.
- First of all, the States that have been reluctant to define their INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution) and are equally reluctant to reduce their emissions since global CO2 emissions should be limited to 42 Giga tonnes by 2030, almost 12 Gt more than current forecasts. Estimated at 41 Gt for the year 2017,CO2 emissions should reach 54 to 56 Gt by 2030, if nothing is done to change things. At the same time, the commitments made to Africa, particularly with regard to financing, i.e. a minimum of 100 billion per year from 2020, are not being met and the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement is very bad news in this respect.
- Secondly, the effects of climate change and the accelerated desertificationthat a suicidal policy of deforestation reinforced would justify an increased effort on adaptation policies. Thus, a vicious circle is set up, the powerlessness to fulfil the objectives of mitigation increasing the needs of adaptation policies.
- Thirdly, and contrasting in nature, the mobilization of civil society is growing in power thanks to multilateral cooperation on the climate. This is occurring through international cooperative initiatives (ICI) for the climate which can, depending on the case, link public and/or private actors, and take a variety of forms. In this context, the agenda of solutions that brings together all these initiatives has led academics to talk about a groundswell surging within the world of climate action. In addition to these multiple cooperation frameworks, there is a cooperation and an understanding between technical experts and institutions linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This links with the Sustainable Development Goals, thus addressing Article 6 of the Paris Agreement which establishes a link between climate and sustainable development. Finally, the use of “Name and Shame” as well as “Name and Fame” is expected to play a growing role for all state actors or not.
This observation leads us to recognize that a profound transformation in governance is taking place
- First of all, we are witnessing a reversal of the pressure in favour of the fight against climate change, which is increasingly coming from civil society towards the States and not the reverse, even if States continue to talk about mobilising their populations. The position taken by American President Donald Trump, and the boomerang effect it has had on the part of certain federal states is a perfect depiction of this. Some of those included being California and the major cities on the east coast of the United States, as well as some very large companies on the west coast. The global awareness of citizens – perfectly reflected in the consensus conference organised in 2015 by the French National Commission for Public Debate – is also proof of this. It is now not only the first victims of climate change but also the economic interests that rely on transition and will continue to become the drivers of transformation.
- Real change takes place through new mechanisms that result from the global climate action agenda as a result of international cooperation initiatives. The movements by non-state actors for climate action are generally being demonstrated by cities and regions. Similarly, carbon finance and more generally the evolution of financial institutions are considerable. Improving the transparency of systems is essential, especially to do with both the reality of greenhouse gas emissions through the introduction of new technologies and by monitoring the effectiveness of the actions implemented.
- Finally, the law is transformed twofold. On the one hand, with the emergence of texts and in particular the Universal Declaration of Humankind Rights (DHR) which are signed and supported by public entities including large cities, private entities (NGOs, companies) and institutions (universities, many bars around the world), and individuals, including former UN Secretary General – Ban Ki-moon. On the other hand, with an astounding development of climate justice that creates a coalition between the court and civil society to compel states to act and to pursue those responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and to make them contribute to the damage they have caused, especially on the basis of the Heede report.
As such, the warning signs which continue to present themselves on this climate issue which concerns humanity, as it does all living species, are perhaps a sign of hope for that reason and an instinct of conservation may prevail, establishing a global and local governance capable of responding to the challenges of the current era.