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Paris Climate Agreement

Green Conflict Minerals: The fuels of conflict in the transition to a low-carbon economy

By Clare Church and Alec Crawford - International Institute for Sustainable Development, August 2018

The mining sector will play a key role in the transition toward a low-carbon future.

The technologies required to facilitate this shift, including wind turbines, solar panels and improved energy storage, all require significant mineral and metal inputs and, absent any dramatic technological advances or an increase in the use of recycled materials, these inputs will come from the mining sector. How they are sourced will determine whether this transition supports peaceful, sustainable development in the countries where strategic reserves are found or reinforces weak governance and exacerbates local tensions and grievances.

Through extensive desk-based research, a mapping analysis, stakeholder consultations, case studies and an examination of existing mineral supply chain governance mechanisms, this report seeks to understand how the transition to a low-carbon economy—and the minerals and metals required to make that shift—could affect fragility, conflict and violence dynamics in mineral-rich states.

For the minerals required to make the transition to a low-carbon economy, there are real risks of grievances, tensions and conflicts emerging or continuing around their extraction. In order to meet global goals around sustainable development and climate change mitigation, while contributing to lasting peace, the supply chains of these strategic minerals must be governed in a way that is responsible, accountable and transparent.

Read the report (Link).

Petro-masculinity: Fossil Fuels and Authoritarian Desire

By Cara Daggett - SagePub, June 20, 2018

Global warming poses a problem for fossil fuel systems and those who profit from them; leaving fossil fuels in the ground likely means leaving trillions of dollars of profit in the ground. Vast networks of privilege that are sustained by fossil economies are likewise threatened. As Jairus Grove reflects, ‘environmental justice will require unequal roles: significantly constraining, even repressing, the powers of the Eurocene’. Similarly, the ‘Planet Politics Manifesto’ reminds us that ‘the planet is telling us that there are limits to human freedom; there are freedoms and political choices we can no longer have’.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the amount of money and privilege at stake, the tragic ethos demanded by global environmental justice is being resisted. Those regions that have emitted the most carbon dioxide are positioning themselves to profit from a warming earth by advancing a militarised and corporatised version of climate security. The result, as Christian Parenti foresees it, is the likelihood of a ‘politics of the armed lifeboat’, given that, already,

the North is responding with a new authoritarianism. The Pentagon and its European allies are actively planning a militarized adaptation, which emphasizes the long-term, open-ended containment of failed or failing states – counter-insurgency forever. This sort of ‘climate fascism’ – a politics based on exclusion, segregation and repression – is horrific and bound to fail.

‘Climate fascism’, with its camps, barbed wire and police omnipresence, is a likely outcome of climate (in)security.

A nascent fossil fascism is already evident in the wake of the 2016 election of Donald Trump as President of the United States and the conservative capture of the US Congress. In a short time, the Trump Administration and the Republican Party have shored up fossil
fuel systems by denying climate change and dismantling a host of environmental policies including: withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, installing a climate denier (Scott Pruitt) to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, taking steps to kill the Clean
Power Plan, weakening the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, lifting a moratorium on new coal leases on federal land, ending a study on the health effects of mountaintop coal removal, and moving to open nearly all US coastal waters to offshore drilling for oil.

Climate denial obviously serves fossil-fuelled capitalist interests. However, coal and oil do more than ensure profit and fuel consumption-heavy lifestyles. If people cling so tenaciously to fossil fuels, even to the point of embarking upon authoritarianism, it is
because fossil fuels also secure cultural meaning and political subjectivities. Since the new imperialism of the 19th century, fossil fuels have become the metaphorical, material, and sociotechnical basis of Western petrocultures that extend across the planet.

In other words, fossil fuels matter to new authoritarian movements in the West because of profits and consumer lifestyles, but also because privileged subjectivities are oil-soaked and coal-dusted. It is no coincidence that white, conservative American men – regardless of class – appear to be among the most vociferous climate deniers, as well as leading fossil fuel proponents in the West.

Read the text (Link).

The Sky’s Limit California: why the Paris Climate Goals demand that California lead in a managed decline of oil extraction

By Kelly Trout, et. al. - Oil Change International, May 22, 2018

This study examines the implications of the Paris Agreement goals for oil production and climate leadership in California.

California’s leaders, including Governor Jerry Brown, have been vocal supporters of the Paris Agreement. Yet, California presently has no plan to phase out its oil and gas production in line with Paris-compliant carbon budgets. Under the Brown administration, the state has permitted the drilling of more than 20,000 new wells, including extraction and injection wells.

We provide new data findings related to:

  • The climate implications of ongoing permitting of new oil wells in California;
  • The ways that a managed decline of existing wells can prioritize health and equity; and
  • Elements of a just transition for affected workers and communities.

We recommend that the state take the following actions:

  • Cease issuing permits for new oil and gas extraction wells;
  • Implement a 2,500-foot health buffer zone around homes, schools, and hospitals where production must phase out;
  • Develop a plan for the managed decline of California’s entire fossil fuel sector to maximize the effectiveness of the state’s climate policies; and
  • Develop a transition plan that protects people whose livelihoods are affected by the economic shift, including raising dedicated funds via a Just Transition Fee on oil production.

As a wealthy oil producer, California is well positioned to take more ambitious action to proactively phase out its fossil fuel production and has a responsibility to do so in order to fulfill its commitment
to climate leadership. By taking these steps, California would become the first significant oil and gas producer globally to chart a path off fossil fuel production in line with climate limits.

Download (PDF).

Climate Change and Just Transition: What Will Workers Need

By staff - Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change and United Steelworkers, April 2017

The United Steelworkers Union (USW) in Canada has produced a new workshop guide to educate workers about the impact of climate change on jobs, and to better prepare them to ensure that government policies promoting a just transition are put in place. The workshop and guide were piloted at the United Steelworkers National Health, Safety, Environment and Human Rights Conference that was held in Vancouver in 2017.

The workshop guide leads union members through discussion topics and activities, such as asking participants to answer the question, “What can your workplace do to combat climate change?”

Topics covered include:

  • How Climate Change Connects Us
  • How Climate Change Contributes to the World of Work
    • Employment
    • Forestry
    • Mining
    • Transportation
  • Just Transition
  • What Does a Green Job Mean in Relation to the Environment?
    • Collective Agreements
    • Political Lobbying
    • Green Procurement
    • Training
    • Employment Insurance
  • National Concern for the Economic Growth of Canada

Read the text (PDF).

Sharing the challenges and opportunities of a clean energy economy: Policy discussion paper A Just Transition for coal-fired electricity sector workers and communities

By staff - Australian Council of Trade Unions - November 2016

The ACTU is primarily concerned with workers, their rights, their welfare and their future. A just and civil society is one where everyone shares in the wealth of the nation but it is also one where economic costs are equally shared.

Transitioning an industry is a massive economic and social disruption. History shows that this has often been done poorly in Australia, with workers and communities bearing the brunt of such transitions - suffering hardship, unemployment and generations of economic and social depression.

Research in the textiles, clothing and footwear (TCF) and car manufacturing industries shows, for example, that only one third of workers find equivalent full time work following their retrenchment, while one third move into lower quality jobs (lower wage, lower job status or into part-time and casual work) and one third are locked out of the labour force altogether.

International experience however shows that a transition can be done equitably, achieve positive outcomes for workers, save communities and forge new areas of industrial growth and prosperity.

Australia is currently facing one such transition in the coal-fired electricity sector. If Australia manages this transition well, the nation would have a structured and equitable approach that could apply to any industry undergoing similar change in the future.

At last year’s Paris climate conference, Australia alongside 194 countries, committed to limit global warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. As part of this historic agreement, unions successfully achieved recognition of the need for a ‘Just Transition’ that supports the most affected workers obtain new decent and secure jobs in a clean energy economy.

While Australia’s international obligations will require a range of complementary policies that focus on emission reduction across a number of sectors of the economy, as the largest contributor to Australia’s emissions, effective reform of the electricity sector has been identified as a key step in tackling climate change.

Download (PDF).

The Sky’s Limit: Why the Paris Climate Goals Require a Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Production

By Greg Muttitt, et. al. - Oil Change International, et. al., September 2016

In December 2015, world governments agreed to limit global average temperature rise to well below 2°C, and to strive to limit it to 1.5°C. This report examines, for the first time, the implications of these climate boundaries for energy production and use. Our key findings are:

  • The potential carbon emissions from the oil, gas, and coal in the world’s currently operating fields and mines would take us beyond 2°C of warming
  • The reserves in currently operating oil and gas fields alone, even with no coal, would take the world beyond 1.5°C
  • With the necessary decline in production over the coming decades to meet climate goals, clean energy can be scaled up at a corresponding pace, expanding the total number of energy jobs.

One of the most powerful climate policy levers is also the simplest: stop digging for more fossil fuels. We therefore recommend:

  • No new fossil fuel extraction or transportation infrastructure should be built, and governments should grant no new permits for them
  • Some fields and mines –primarily in rich countries –should be closed before fully exploiting their resources, and financial support should be provided for non-carbon development in poorer countries
  • This does not mean stopping using all fossil fuels overnight. Governments and companies should conduct a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry and ensure a just transition for the workers and communities that depend on it.

In August 2015, just months before the Paris climate talks, President Anote Tong of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati called for an end to construction of new coal mines and coal mine expansions. This report expands his call to all fossil fuels.

Read the report (PDF).

We Are Mother Earth’s Red Line: Frontline Communities Lead the Climate Justice Fight Beyond the Paris Agreement

By staff - It Takes Roots to Weather the Storm - January 2016

The Paris Climate Agreement of December 2015 is a dangerous distraction that threatens all of us. Marked by the heavy influence of the fossil fuel industry, the deal reached at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) never mentions the need to curb extractive energy, and sets goals far below those needed to avert a global catastrophe. The agreement signed by 196 countries does acknowledge the global urgency of the climate crisis, and reflects the strength of the climate movement. But the accord ignores the roots of the crisis, and the very people who have the experience and determination to solve it.

Around the world, negotiators use the term “red line” to signify a figurative point of no return or a limit past which safety can no longer be guaranteed. Our communities, whose very survival is most directly impacted by climate change, have become a living red line. We have been facing the reality of the climate crisis for decades. Our air and water are being poisoned by fossil fuel extraction, our livelihoods are threatened by floods and drought, our communities are the hardest hit and the least protected in extreme weather events—and our demands for our survival and for the rights of future generations are pushing local, national, and global leaders towards real solutions to the climate crisis.

We brought these demands to the UNFCCC 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) as members of the delegation called “It Takes Roots to Weather the Storm.” Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ), the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), and the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) organized the delegation, which included leaders and organizers from more than 100 US and Canadian grassroots and Indigenous groups. We helped to mobilize the thousands of people who took to the streets of Paris during the COP21, despite a ban on public protest—and amplified the pressure that Indigenous Peoples, civil society, and grassroots movements have built throughout the 21 years of UN climate talks.

The Paris Agreement coming out of the COP21 allows emissions from fossil fuels to continue at levels that endanger life on the planet, demonstrating just how strongly world leaders are tied to the fossil fuel industry and policies of economic globalization. The emphasis within the UNFCCC process on the strategies of carbon markets consisting of offsets and pollution trading created an atmosphere within the COP21 of business more than regulation. The result is a Paris Agreement that lets developed countries continue to emit dangerously high levels of greenhouse gasses; relies on imaginary technofixes and pollution cap-and-trade schemes that allow big polluters to continue polluting at the source, and results in land grabs and violations of human rights and the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Our analysis of the Paris Agreement echoes critiques from social movements around the world, led by those most impacted by both climate disruption and the false promises that governments and corporate interests promote in its wake.

“Frontline communities” are the peoples living directly alongside fossil-fuel pollution and extraction—overwhelmingly Indigenous Peoples, Black, Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander peoples in working class, poor, and peasant communities in the US and around the world. In climate disruption and extreme weather events, we are hit first and worst.

We are Mother Earth’s red line. We don’t have the luxury of settling for industry or politicians’ hype or half measures. We know it takes roots to weather the storm and that’s why we are building a people’s climate movement rooted in our communities. We are the frontlines of the solution: keeping fossil fuels in the ground and transforming the economy with innovative, community-led solutions.

Paths Beyond Paris: Movements, Action and Solidarity Towards Climate Justice

By various - Carbon Trade Watch, December 2015

Over twenty years have passed since governments within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) began to discuss the impending climate crisis. Year after year, we witness the talks moving further away from identifying the root causes of climate change while the increasing impacts affect even more peoples and regions. Every meeting has given more space for corporate involvement and less to the voices of those directly affected by these climate policies. Despite the promoters’ fancy “green” campaigns and videos, the main focus at the climate negotiations continues to be about saving the free-market economy for those who are holding the cards – the biggest transnational corporations and financial institutions. The same corporations that are largely behind the destruction of forests, rivers, diversity, territories – as well as the violation of human and collective rights and so on – are also the main polluters and plunderers of the Earth.

The climate crisis poses a real threat to the current economic model which is based on the continuous extraction and production of fossil fuels, hydrocarbons and “natural resources” such as land, minerals, wood and agriculture. If talks were to seriously address climate change, there would need to be a discussion on the many ways to support the hundreds of thousand of small-scale farmers, fishers, Indigenous Peoples, forest-dwelling communities and others whose territories and livelihoods are at risk from capital expansion, and how to transition to different economic systems where fossil fuels could be kept underground; where the consumption “mantra” would shift towards more local, diverse and collective discourses and practices. However, the hegemonic and colonial powers are once more violently closing doors, creating more “structural adjustments” and, ultimately, harming the people who are the least responsible for current and historical pollution levels suffering the most from the impacts.

The fallacy that we can continue with the same economic model is irremediably flawed, bankrolled by big polluters, and intrinsically linked to land and livelihoods grabbing, especially in the Global South. Nonetheless, mechanisms like carbon markets, which expand the extractivist and free-market logic, continue to be promoted as unilateral, program- matic “solutions” to mitigate climate change and address deforestation and biodiversity loss. From carbon trading to forests and biodiversity offsets, the climate crisis has been turned into a business opportunity, worsening the already felt impacts, especially for those who are the least responsible. Debates over molecules of carbon being accounted for and “moved” or “stored” from one location to the other detracts from the necessary debates on shifting away from extraction, unjust power structures and oppression. While being fully informed of the causes of climate change, international climate negotiations strive to ensure that the hegemonic economic model expands and rewards polluters.

The consequence is that “climate policies” (aka economic policies) finance the most destructive industries and polluters, often destroying genuinely effective actions that support community livelihoods and keep fossil fuels in the ground. Moreover, these policies further the “financialization of nature” process, which presupposes the separation and quantification of the Earth’s cycles and functions – such as carbon, water and biodiversity – in or-der to turn them into “units” or “titles” that can be sold in financial and speculative markets. With governments establishing legal frameworks to set these markets in place, they also have provided the financial “infrastructure” for negotiating financial “instruments”, by using derivatives, hedge funds and others. While financial markets have a growing influence over economic policies, the “financialization of nature” hands over the management to the financial markets, whose sole concern is to further accumulate capital.

Read the report (PDF).

A just transition for all: Can the past inform the future?

By various - International Labour Office, 2015

2015 is a decisive year for global agreements on Sustainable Development and climate change. The ILO calls for a just transition for all towards a greener and more socially sustainable economy. This Journal is focussing on drawing lessons from a few transition experiences in order to analyse how successfully (or not) these processes were managed in the past and how future transitions might be handled in a just manner. Challenges such as policy coherence, consultations and participation by all relevant stakeholders are addressed and lessons learned on these issues are highlighted in the Journal.

Read the report (Link).

Climate Crisis Connects Us, Climate Justice Requires Unity

By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese - Popular Resistance, August 26, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

What do rigged corporate trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris Treaty, an international climate agreement to be signed in 2015, have in common? They are both tools being pushed by the power elite to rip away our hopes for democracy and to commodify all things to monetize them for profit.

It is this drive by multinational corporations to patent and control even living beings such as plants and animals and to privatize even elements that are essential to life such as water which connects all human beings on the planet. We are in a global battle of the people versus the plutocrats and this battle has a ticking timer called the climate crisis.

The global financial elites meet regularly to plan their strategy and tactics. If they can’t push their agenda through the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization, they move to secret massive trade agreements. The Obama Administration is negotiating three such agreements right now: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TAFTA) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). Those agreements are stalled thanks to a movement of movements coming together to stop Congress from giving Obama fast track trade promotion authority.

Similarly, in response the climate crisis, the United Nations has been involved in what is called the Conference of the Parties (COP) which is part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Big corporations have taken over this process and are using it in their relentless drive to plunder the planet and exploit its living beings which knows no limits. It will take people power to apply the brakes.

Now, with the Paris Treaty, a binding international climate agreement, set to be concluded in December of 2015, we must build a similarly unified movement that stops this rigged corporate agreement and puts in place real solutions to the climate crisis. We must understand that climate change affects and connects all of us and we must be as organized as the opposition.

The United Nations Climate Summit in New York this September 23 provides an opportunity to further build this unified movement in the United States. Thousands of activists are planning to come to New York City for a march on September 21. In the days prior to that, the Global Climate Convergence in partnership with System Change not Climate Change will host a conference to discuss real solutions and obstacles to change, share skills and connect our sub-movements. This will be another step in the growing movement seeking real climate solutions in the face of the corruption and dysfunction of the United Nations and United States which have failed to address the climate crisis in meaningful ways.

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