12/14/2015, 00.00
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Sri Lankan activists: Climate deal puts burden of environmental disasters on poor countries

by Melani Manel Perera
Each year about 26 million people migrate within their own countries or across borders because of environmental disasters. In the next 10 years the number will rise to one billion. Government negotiators describe deals as ambitious, "but it is just a delaying tactic". The maximum of two degrees and a commitment to limit the increase in global warming to 1.5 "will not save the world."

Colombo (AsiaNews) - The agreement reached in Paris by the Conference of Parties on climate change will not save the world from the serious climatic disasters that are happening right now and will leave poor countries alone to face the damage that these disasters create. This is according to activists from the Centre for Environmental Justice / Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka (Cej).  

Speaking to AsiaNews, Hemantha Withanage, CEJ executive director, commented: "Today thousands of people march through the streets of Paris demanding 'environmental justice' and 'power to the people now'. In all likelihood, the apathy of the political leaders will not lead to achieving a global agreement to address climate change. It is clear that the heads of state and government will not sign an agreement of justice for the environment. The fight for climate justice will not end in Paris. "

According to Dr. Withanage, "negotiators from various governments declare the deal is fair and ambitious, but environmentalists gathered in the French capital believe that it is a delaying tactic. Vulnerable populations and the suffering deserve a better deal, especially because they live in great danger in poor countries because of the weather conditions”.

The executive director of Cej adds: "The UN agencies, such as UNHCR [the UN High Commissioner for Refugees - Ed] and the Council for Human Rights, reported that the current increase of 0.8 degrees is causing large-scale migrations. About 26 million people each year move within their countries or across borders because of extreme events such as hurricanes or drought. International institutions warn that in less than 10 years nearly one billion people could be in these conditions, if we fail to tackle the long-term consequences such as rising temperatures and sea levels”.

Asad Rehman, a spokesman for the association Friends of the Earth International, shares the doubts: "The iceberg has been hit, the ship is sinking, and the orchestra  is still playing for applause." The reference is to the increase of three degrees of global warming, expected in the coming years.

Withanage explains further: "The major problems of the Paris agreement is that it provides for a maximum of two degrees for the increase in global warming and a commitment by all countries to limit temperatures to 1.5 degrees. This means that there is no obligation for rich countries to decrease greenhouse gas emissions or provide funding based on their responsibility, so the burden will be passed on to developing countries. If we are to avoid a 'mad' climate, we must urgently cut emissions, not only postpone it ". The agreement in fact does not establish a date for the end of the use of fossil fuels, but speaks only of reducing pollution "as soon as possible".

The activist concludes with a reflection on the human costs of this deal: "We must recognize that the impact of climate change is already irreparable. The agreement explicitly excludes forms of compensation for the people already affected by the disasters. Past experiences teach us that no real mechanism for compensation for the victims, the most vulnerable communities will be left to themselves, to deal with the damage that they have not created".

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See also
Asia-Pacific states and US announce deal on greenhouse gases
COP21: for India and China, developed countries have a greater responsibility
Modi at COP21: Reduce emissions, but India will continue to use coal
Paris: difficult negotiations underway in COP21 on climate change
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