Press release: Review of COP21 by Prof. Peter Droege

Press release, Bonn 14 December 2015

Last Saturday the 'climate negotiating parties’ in Paris achieved consensus on a binding set of agreements aiming at a maximum of 1.5 to 2 degrees temperature increase as target range. This was stated with such confidence that one could forget for a moment that the Earth's atmosphere has no thermostat: No one can control or assure an outcome, certainly not with resolutions alone, nor when there is already a greenhouse gas concentration far too high for the kind of relative climatic stability that has made human evolution possible. Methane venting from melting permafrost and destroyed rain forests and moorlands adds to the still rising greenhouse-gas stream from the combustion of coal, oil and gas. A 1.5-2 degrees Celsius target without a firm limit on emissions and an unwavering and bold commitment to 100% renewables is impossible to achieve. The Paris pledges are likely to put us above 2, if not 4 or 5 degrees.

The immediate and unequivocal move to renewable energy systems can no longer be delayed. Fortunately, thousands of communities, cities, banks, businesses, foundations, funds and millions of people around the world of all ages and positions in society have already realized the need for a rapid shift to renewables:
The use of solar PV alone has increased more than 50-fold over the last 10 years. The potential is being demonstrated amply: The contracting parties must no longer slow down the implementation of a global 100% target. The Paris conference only leaves room for hope that the targets will be ratcheted up as the living conditions tangibly worsen.

C0² concentration targets should be aimed at achieving a value BELOW the current level of 400 ppm: at 350 or even 250 ppm, which can only be achieved with a fully renewable energy supply and biosequestration in organic agriculture, the healing of grasslands, wetlands, forests and oceans. It is possible, practical and necessary, but none of this appears in the Paris accord.

The Paris agreement is portrayed as a 'miraculous' achievement in international diplomacy, decision process management and sustainability management, while it actually aims at a far warmer planet than any scientific consensus regards as safe or sane, and while it demonstrates no real commitment or mechanisms to control further temperature increases, ocean acidification, methane venting and the broad escalations of a worsening global climate.

Although it has to be appreciated that an agreement was reached, there is a risk that the notionally binding declarations without clear substance are being confused with the kind of actions that are sorely needed and long overdue: bold, unequivocal effective commitments. A spark of hope remains in the fact that the negotiations were held in an atmosphere of unease, a recognition that the agreement is fragile and requires supportive action - and a recognition that real change cannot wait for the slow implementation schedule, and cannot find sufficient resonance in a process that is contaminated by the toxic fog of emissions trading, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and 'clean coal', the fallacy of forest carbon offsets, the existential threat of nuclear power, continued and ballooning budget boosts to the nuclear fusion fallacy, an unclear financial framework - and above all, a massive, multi-trillion dollar fossil energy subsidy bubble.

Fossil industry inspired roll-backs will continue to build up and, indeed, fossil fuels, the prime culprits, have not been limited in this treaty in any concrete way. The power of the incumbent industries is all too apparent: in Germany the government has already dismantled the feed-In-tariff and abandoned the 'Energiewende' - except for the term. Solar and wind build-outs are to be limited to what de facto amounts to a paltry 1.5% annual growth rate, using a planned-economy style advertising and allocation rationing system. Bioenergy has been butchered. This has to stop.

Germany must return to the politics of sanity, recognizing that the renewable energy transition is a bottom-up process, supported by government policy, but fundamentally realized locally, regionally and decentralised. We are encouraged and electrified by Paris, but only to redouble our efforts in a confident resolution on the quickened path to a fossil- und nuclear free Germany, Europe and world, with all our sections, allies and friends - and above all, the strength and commitment of our members. We focus our efforts on strengthening our relation with all of them, and with all of our sections.

From banks to businesses, from small, local governments to large cities, the call for renewable energy has become so commonplace that one might think that EUROSOLAR's work is done. Indeed, when EUROSOLAR started out on the path to a renewable world, led by the late Hermann Scheer and his group of supporters, many had envisioned that by now this world will be upon us.

However, the need for EUROSOLAR has perhaps been never greater than today, to fight with and alongside our allies and supporters. Together, we will we rescue a sick planet from further rise in fossil fuel emissions, and build a base for continued, rich and healthy life on Earth. The COP process of the UNFCCC cannot replace ubiquitous, distributed and immediate action - it can initiate a slow change by soothing us in illusions.

Instead we continue to push for the ethical, just, rapid and universal liberation from the fossil and nuclear yoke, for the benefit of all, everywhere on this planet: to prosperity, health, security, human empowerment, local development and social justice.

Professor Peter Droege
President, EUROSOLAR
General Chairman, WCRE


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