Cop21 or com21?
COP21, the major event of 2015
Obtain commitments from most states to reduce global warming to 2 ° Celsius in 2100 is COP21’s primary objective. Gather 100 billion dollars annually by 2020 to help developing countries cope with climate change is an essential condition to achieve this. The government’s dedicated mini website recalls: “The 100 billion objective is an important stake of the negotiations: providing developing countries with the insurance that developed countries will respect this commitment is critical to create the necessary confidence for the negotiation of an agreement in Paris.”
It is a huge challenge to gather more than 150 state leaders in Paris, and COP21 is the only international conference to succeed. What the French daily Le Monde in its edition of November 30 named the “ball of States Leaders” has caused a huge pull effect on the event. Important statements, relayed live on Twitter and all media in the world, made the news on 29 and 30 November:
“You cannot afford to be uncertain and take half measures (…) History calls you, I urge you to respond with courage and vision”, the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon declared.
“We are the first generation to feel the effects of climate change and we may be the last one to be able to do something against it”, President of the United States of America Barack Obama stated.
“I don’t oppose the fight against terrorism to the fight against climate change. These are two major global challenges we must face” François Hollande, President of the French Republic, said.
These state leaders’ speeches, broadcast globally, are part of a sophisticated communication plan. Laurent Fabius, in charge, described it in these terms: “We thought it was essential, since we enter the final stretch, to reinforce the advocacy work on the importance of this event”. In France, a particular emphasis was put on public transports in Paris area and large billboards with slogans were displayed in the suburbs. With « simple and mobilizing slogans », the campaign aims to highlight the urgency and the gravity of the situation. It also shows that the mobilization for our planet is a chance.
A communication achievement. But is it a global success?
The objective of the conference is to obtain binding commitments from major industrial powers. Yet this objective is in fact almost impossible to achieve: the United States, the second biggest polluter on the planet, cannot make any commitment for political reasons. The US president will be unable to ratify a treaty with a Republican majority in Congress opposed to any climate action. And an agreement that is not binding can only have a symbolic value.
Likewise for China but for different reasons: as the world’s largest CO2 emitter, China plays a complex role as the second largest economy and the emerging countries leader. The Chinese negotiator, Mr Xie, has publicly questioned the ability of rich countries to find the $ 100 billion to finance the energy transition. For its part, India refuses to reduce its coal consumption, the main source of CO2 emissions, which represents 80% of its electricity, of which 300 million inhabitants are still deprived.
Unless participants find an agreement on this point, COP21 will only be the “Com 21” of main states leaders.