The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 has been opened in Le Bourget France. It is the 21st yearly session of the Conference of Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
The objective of the 2015 conference is to achieve, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. The overarching goal of the Convention is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase to 2 °C.
COP21 is a forum for delegates from 109 countries to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate. During previous climate negotiations, countries agreed to outline actions they intend to take within a global agreement by March 2015.
President Paul Biya is one of the 150 world leaders and heads of governments attending the conference and is in about 4 minutes, expected to present the situation of climate change in Cameroon.
The President’s position on global warming may be evident, but Cameroonians are expecting a lot from Paris. Public opinion holds that Cameroon emits quite little as compared to the developed countries, yet suffer more from the effects.
According to Hon. Awudu Mbaya, President of the Parliamentarians’ Network for climate change, a lot has to be done in Paris to keep the world permanently above 2 °C. Based on climate science and the principles of justice and equity, the Paris agreement should ensure that countries make urgent dramatic cuts in greenhouse gas emission and provide the necessary finances, capacity building and technology transfers to developing countries to help reduce emissions. Measures should be taken to make poor local communities adapt with the effects of climate change and developed countries must provide the necessary support to developing countries’ said Hon. Mbaya.
Underpinning the complexity of the negotiations is a simple fact; there must be plan for a zero carbon future to avoid catastrophic loss of life and livelihoods. Making the transition to zero carbon in societies is imperative, but according to Sharan Burrow , General Secretary at the International Trade Union Confederation, we can only succeed if the transition is just. ‘Success needs governments to show leadership when setting ambitious climate goals in Paris, but it also requires all of us; businesses, workers and their unions, civil society and communities to support change. A global agreement must commit to just transition’ said Sharan.
Anxiety is rife amongst Cameroonians to see how well President Paul Biya will represent and defend their course in Paris. It should be noted that Civil Society members in Cameroon recently raised concerns about being bypassed during decision making processes. During a regional coordination meeting of the National Platform of Civil Society Networks on REDD+ and Climate Change in Buea in October this year, civil society members called for greater involvement in climate change issues at top levels. This is because they are the people on the ground and have firsthand knowledge of the effects of climate change.
Another issue that is drawing international attention to Paris now is the question of insecurity given the recent terrorist attacks in that country claiming the lives of over 129 persons. Reports say massive security measures have been introduced in France because of the climate change summit. It is therefore hope that COP 21 will achieve long lasting solutions to terrorism against human beings and terrorism against the environment.
By Mkong Immaculate Kelighai