Fight climate change like we battle Covid-19, says Paris Accord chief negotiator
Laurent Fabius, the Frenchman who brought down the gavel to seal the Paris Accord on climate change five years ago, said he wished world powers had fought global warming as resolutely as they have confronted the coronavirus pandemic.
The agreement between almost 200 states on Dec. 12, 2015 was hailed as a potential turning point in efforts to contain global warming. It called for holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
While the long-term trend in global temperatures is now downwards, progress is insufficient, Fabius said, blaming a lack of political will among many governments, not least the United States under President Donald Trump.
However, in an interview with Reuters, he highlighted some positive developments, including President-elect Joe Biden’s pledge to bring the United States back into the accord.
Governments have taken courageous financial and social decisions to halt the virus, but climate change poses an even graver threat, Fabius said.
“Unfortunately, we are not doing as much to fight climate change as we are to tackle the fallout from Covid,” said Fabius, who was chief negotiator at the Paris talks and is now president of France’s Constitutional Council.
He said it was critical that in the global recovery from the pandemic, the rebound is “green” and money is not ploughed into old, polluting industries.
The accord has brought some success, Fabius said. Scientific models had projected temperatures would increase 5 or 6 degrees and now estimated rises of 3 to 4 degrees by 2100. But this was still too high, he said.
The thresholds set by the Paris Accord reflect scientists’ beliefs that a rise in temperatures of more than 2 degrees would doom the planet to a future of rising sea levels, catastrophic floods, droughts and storms, and food and water shortages.
BIDEN: A GAME-CHANGER?
Fabius, a former prime minister who was France’s foreign minister at the time of the accord, recalled sleepless nights during two weeks of intense negotiations. The accord almost fell apart at the last moment.
He has a cherished replica of the green wooden hammer: cheers erupted and diplomats hugged as his gavel came down.
“Since then, it’s not been the same. In particular there was the backtracking by US President Donald Trump, which was bad for America but more so the rest of the world,” he said.
The United States, the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter after China, formally exited the accord on Nov. 4, a day after Election Day, fulfilling a Trump promise to withdraw.
“A certain number of countries said to themselves: if the world’s biggest power doesn’t respect its commitments, why should we?” Fabius continued.
But he said there had been a geopolitical shift in recent months. Biden has promised to rejoin the accord, China has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2060 and Japan by 2050.
Fabius predicted that Biden’s task will not be easy, with control of the US Senate still up for grabs and energy lobby groups wielding huge influence in Washington.
“(But) to move things we need every country in the world to act, not just one county.”
A pair of mobile phones belonging to former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan, who recently said he made a video naming all those planning to 'assassinate' him, were stolen in Sialkot, a key aide of the Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman has said.
Centrist politician Elisabeth Borne was appointed France's new prime minister on Monday, becoming only the second woman in history to hold the post. French President Emmanuel Macron's choice of Borne was criticized by some left-wing politicians and their supporters. Macron also promised a bill addressing the rising cost of living in France, where food and energy prices are surging. Macron vowed to go “twice as fast” in his second term to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
An Indian American Democratic body is hosting a “Dream with Ambition” summit gala this week which will be addressed by Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Ami Bera, and Raja Krishnamoorthi -- the four Indian American lawmakers. Organised by the 'Indian American Impact' during the AAPI Heritage Month, the event on Wednesday will bring together more than 300 South Asian American community leaders, philanthropists, celebrities and organisers to celebrate and educate, a media release said.
Karine Jean-Pierre held her first briefing as White House press secretary on Monday, observing that her ascension to the role of President Joe Biden's chief spokesperson broke race and sexual-orientation barriers. The daughter of Haitian parents, she was born in Martinique and raised in New York. Jean-Pierre served as former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki's principal deputy until Psaki's resignation on Friday. Jean-Pierre will be the seventh woman to hold the post.
North Korea has deployed its army as the isolated nation battles a suspicious 'fever,' days after announcing its 'first' Covid-19 case. Even senior members of the ruling Workers' Party's powerful politburo were on the ground, visiting pharmacies and medicine management offices, after leader Kim Jong Un criticised 'ineffective distribution' of drugs, the state Korean Central News Agency said in a report on Tuesday. Overall, 663,910 citizens were under medical treatment.