Climate Alliance at COP21

The COP21 ended last December with the adoption of the Paris agreement. The main target: keeping global warming “well below 2 ºC” while gradually working towards a more ambitious 1.5 ºC target. Climate Alliance welcomes the Paris agreement and sees it as a diplomatic success that will serve to strengthen the international climate process. Its reference to local authorities and indigenous peoples as key actors is especially significant, as is its use of the terms “Mother Earth” and climate justice – concepts embodied in Climate Alliance’s founding principles.

Despite the much acclaimed “breakthrough” that COP21 represented, the resulting agreement has its fair share of weaknesses. These are especially evident in the methodology used for the national pledges (INDCs), which are arbitrary and baselines that vary greatly from country to country.

In these national pledges, offset mechanisms as well as the forest sector are popular CO2 reduction strategies. Climate Alliance sees this as a threat: offsetting instruments have not proven able to deliver on expectations and have the potential to increase pressure on both forests and indigenous peoples.

The dangers of relying on offsets aside, the Paris Agreement itself points to the large discrepancy between the national pledges submitted and the stated goals: some have estimated that current pledges would lead to global temperature rises of up to 2.7 ºC (see report). A first review of the INDCs is therefore foreseen for 2018 and then every five years.

Climate Alliance will continue to urge decision makers to make the promised "well below 2 ºC" target a reality.

On a brighter note, the COP21 was a historic moment for cities, which Climate Alliance and increasingly the international community are seeing as the best hope for reaching our climate goals. The Covenant of Mayors is going full speed ahead and received quite some attention during the two weeks of the summit. The Climate Summit for Local Leaders at the Paris city hall also mobilised an unprecedented number of local leaders, all pushing for greater ambition from the national governments. The so called Lima Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) has also hopefully provided a path that will ensure a permanent place for local authorities in the governance structure of the international climate process.

Event highlights

Climate Alliance was especially active at this historic Climate Summit, not only in the run up to the event, (see our key messages below)…

  • The network was present via numerous side events on topics such as the Global Covenant of Mayors, energy efficiency and the role of indigenous peoples in the international climate process. At these events and throughout the two weeks, special COP21 Ambassadors, mayors and other decision makers from Climate Alliance member municipalities, proudly presented the network, voicing Climate Alliance messages.
  • The official handover of “Green Footprints” to Climate Secretariat head Christiana Figueres from children across Europe, taking place annually within the framework of the ZOOM campaign, received a special place this year in the opening ceremony of the Youth and Future Generations Day.
  • At the exhibition, hundreds of people stopped by the Climate Alliance stand during the first week to get their picture taken and make a statement for the climate, while the Climate Alliance Twitter and Facebook feeds were buzzing with blog posts, photo uploads and newly published articles.

Read the full COP21 digest

Important documents and links

Photos on Flickr

COP news on social media

Articles in Outreach Magazine