Finally saying the F-words at UN climate talks

(Climate Change News, 16 Dec 2019) Comment: International negotiations have always focused on carbon emissions, not the coal, oil and gas that create them. That’s changing.

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While the Cop25 climate talks ended last weekend in what’s widely being called a failure, there were some crucial political developments during the meetings that will help shape international climate politics for years to come.

One of the most important is that for the first time in the United Nations space you can say the f-words in polite company. We’re of course talking about “fossil fuels.”

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement ran 16 pages, but didn’t mention the words “fossil fuels” “coal,” “oil,” or “gas” once. That’s a striking omission considering the central role that fossil fuels play in contributing to the climate crisis. Nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions contributing to global warming come from the production and burning of coal, oil and gas.

The problem is only getting worse: according to research released earlier this month, emissions from fossil fuels just hit an all-time high, increasing 4% since countries signed onto Paris. It’s as if Alcoholics Anonymous just called itself Anonymous, and no one ever mentioned whiskey, beer or wine.

It’s no secret how “fossil fuels” became dirty words at the climate talks. Since the “conference of the parties” began 25 years ago, fossil fuel industry lobbyists have had unfettered access to the process. Unlike the World Health Organization, which bans tobacco lobbyists from taking part in negotiations about tobacco cessation efforts, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has no protections against industry corruption.

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Climate Change News, 16 Dec 2019: Finally saying the F-words at UN climate talks