COP22 in Marrakech is all about moving towards implementation of the Paris Agreement that was passed at COP21 last year, and officially entered force on November 4, 2016. At the first two days of my time at COP22 I attended several events centered on the “how” of the implementation of this agreement and potential problems various NGOs and governments saw in regards to transitioning the world to more sustainable energy, cutting emissions, and weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. The point all of the panelists repeated was that it is essential that we do this in a way that doesn’t leave anyone behind.
It was considered a major victory last year when human rights language was included in the preamble of the Paris Agreement. It states “that climate change is a common concern of humankind, Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity…”
It is essential that the Paris Agreement is implemented in a way that recognizes different countries are disproportionately affected by climate change, recognizes and values the concerns and sovereignty of indigenous peoples, includes sustainable development that doesn’t come with externalities, and is gender-just and doesn’t impose extra burdens on women.
I wanted to share an example of a climate solution featured in a panel I went to that is often heavily touted, but does not promote climate justice and in fact violates many human rights. The truth is that biofuels are not a viable solution to our energy and climate problems. When you fill up on E10 at the pump, do you really know what is going on? We need to consider several important facts:
If biofuels are so problematic, then why do we still think of them as a green solution? Biofuels are a great example of a scientific solution to the energy crisis that simply fails to consider the very real and harmful impacts on people in developing nations around the world. We need solutions that value human dignity and do not negatively impact already disadvantaged populations. As the implementation of the Paris Agreement moves forward it will be essential for all parties to consider and develop climate solutions that are truly just.