The call to kick Big Polluters out has been ringing inside the climate negotiations in Bonn, outside the talks, and on social media. But it’s not the only pressing issue governments are grappling with here at the climate treaty talks.
In our first post in this series, we wrote about a critical part of the Paris Agreement called Article 6. Over the past week, negotiations around Article 6 have proceeded steadily.
From a climate justice perspective, the outcomes of these negotiations should help countries on the front lines of climate change access the technology, knowledge, solutions, and finance they need to respond and adapt to climate change.
From Big Polluters’ perspective, they should rubber stamp ineffectual carbon trading schemes that trample community rights and destroy the environment while lining corporate coffers.
The good news is that, for the first time, we’re seeing governments bring big ideas into the Article 6 negotiating room about what it could look like to advance the real, just solutions that millions of people all over the world need.
Why should you care about Article 6 right now?
This section of the Paris Agreement is about ways that governments can collaborate to address climate change—or at least, that’s what it’s meant to be about.
For years, obstructionist governments siding with Big Polluters have attempted to use Article 6 to advance one thing above all: market-based schemes like carbon trading systems—which have failed time and again to reduce carbon emissions, but allow polluters to keep extracting, burning, and profiting from fossil fuels.
At the last round of climate talks in Poland in December, governments were supposed to finalize what are called the “guidelines for implementation” of the Paris Agreement… in other words, the concrete set of steps that turn the accord’s words on paper into action. They did so—finalizing guidelines for all sections except for Article 6.
If you’re scratching your head and thinking, “Wait—international cooperation to address the climate crisis: isn’t that the whole point of the Paris Agreement?” …you’re not alone. This section is critical to the strength of the agreement over all.
That’s exactly why the discussions on Article 6 have been so contentious—and why all eyes are on it now. It’s why Big Polluters are determined to make sure this section is a vehicle for protecting their own interests. And it’s why we absolutely must harness its potential to advance real, just climate solutions that can actually protect people’s lives and our planet.
Advancing just climate solutions to save people’s lives—not industry profits
In Poland last year, governments essentially granted themselves a one-year extension: to finalize the guidelines on Article 6 by the next round of climate talks (COP25), in Chile this December. Here in Bonn, they’re continuing to negotiate what those guidelines look like.
Which brings us back to the good news: More governments than ever before are speaking up about the need to focus on real, just solutions in these guidelines—not simply market-based schemes. Some of those potential solutions include:
- Support for ending fossil fuel subsidies.
- Financing for renewable energy technologies.
- Steps to reduce corporate capture of policy implementation (read: kicking Big Polluters out!).
- And more….
That’s where Corporate Accountability and our allies come in. As we raise the visibility of this issue outside the talks (hey, thanks for reading!), we’re also seizing every opportunity to demonstrate that there are many paths forward—not just the schemes industry pushes.
Say it one more time: Article 6 really matters
As a handful of prominent climate justice leaders wrote last year, if Big Polluters have their way, the Article 6 guidelines will create “an official space for polluters to continue polluting unregulated.”
Of industry-driven market measures, they write: “Such schemes are criticized for being rooted in the colonialism and environmental racism that is at the core of fossil fuel extraction. Indigenous peoples, small-scale farmers, forest peoples, youth, communities of colour and women are most impacted by these schemes.”
As you read about what’s happening at these talks—and as your eyes begin to glaze over—don’t for a moment forget that between the lines of diplomatic language and stuffy legalese, people’s lives are being traded and negotiated.
The deals that are made here, and the language that is adopted, become official international policy. Those policies are adopted by governments all over the world, and directly impact our global response to the climate crisis at every level—from the local, to the national, to the international.
That’s why we have to support the bold governments championing just climate policy in these talks. And it’s why we have to kick Big Polluters, and the self-serving schemes they peddle, out of the negotiating halls.