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  • Protesters rally in London on Nov. 29, ahead of the COP21 summit in Paris.

    Protesters rally in London on Nov. 29, ahead of the COP21 summit in Paris. | Photo: Reuters

This year's Earth Day marks the signing of the COP21 agreement, a "disastrous" day for "billions" in the world's poorer nations.

Rich countries led by the United States want to “do away with the concept of historic responsibility” through the COP21 climate agreement which will be signed in New York Friday, Asad Rehman, an international spokesperson for the United Kingdom-based environmental organization Friends of the Earth told teleSUR.

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While the Paris climate agreement is “undoubtedly a diplomatic success … it is not sufficient,” said Rehman. "Climate scientists tell us we have to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius because once it reaches 1.5 we move toward what they call a tipping point, when our ability to reduce emissions will be basically out of our hands."

The actual pledges being made by developed countries on emission levels would lead to 3 and 3.5 degrees Celsius global warming, the activist and organizer warned. "That is absolutely devastating for the lives of billions of people."

Rehman went on to describe how developed countries led by the U.S. have lobbied to absolve themselves from their historic responsibility of being the world’s biggest polluters and instead shifted the burden away from themselves to developing countries, who have contributed far less to climate change.

“In a fair and normal world, if you are trying to tackle climate change, you would listen to climate scientists who tell us how much pollution we can omit into the atmosphere before the planet's warming gets to a dangerous level,” Asad said.

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A genuine look into the idea of historic responsibility shows “how rich, developed countries grew richer off the burning of fossil fuels and have the capacity to deal and reduce their emissions," according to the climate scientist.

Meanwhile, poorer countries "have contributed much, much less than developed countries and of course they also battle other issues like poverty eradication,” he stressed.

Asad went on to explain how the U.S., along with other developed, rich nations are undermining and weakening the concept of historic responsibility.

“They wanted governments to be allowed to commit to whatever they wanted. And what they wanted would have resulted in the planet reaching temperatures of up to 5 degrees Celsius.”

“The second thing the U.S. wanted was to shift the burden from developed countries to developing countries,” he said.

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For example, as part of the COP21 agreement the U.S. proposed that money sent by migrants residing in developed countries to developing countries be claimed by developed nations as a contribution from their governments to climate change.

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The agreement has also allowed the governments of developed countries to "repackage existing aid commitments" under the guise of "climate finance," according to Rehman.

The senior Friends of the Earth campaigner emphasized that global warming will cause significant "losses," including incalculable human loss to "cultures, homes" and "communities."

Meanwhile, the world's richest nations, who are most responsible for global warming and climate change, will avoid paying their debt.

"What they want to do is not only not take any action, not only not provide any finance," but also not "pick up the price on the tap for when climate change devastates the lives of people.”

Rehman said the agreement will not go into effect until countries ratify it in their own parliaments, which could take months if not years.

“Secondly, the agreement only starts in 2020," which is too late for many developing countries as they require urgent action. He described this as "disastrous," but mostly for "poor people."

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Going forward social movements and climate activists must bring the fight against global warming to the streets.

“There is a need for us to build a powerful movement of people that will hold our governments to account to make sure they give their share," said Rahman.

“We need to change the way we produce and consume our energy, we need to change the way we produce and consume our food. We need to stop cutting our forests.”

In order to fight global warming and corporate greed, the industrial food system must be stopped, Asad said.

“We have and promote agroecology which is food systems based on what our farmers and peasants of the global south are already producing, which would feed the world three times over.

“There is no shortage of food, there is no shortage of access to renewable energy, what we have is a lack of political will. And that's because of corporations and big businesses, who are maximizing their profits and dominating the decision making in our governments, so governments act in their interests rather than the people's.”

teleSUR
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