COP21 in Paris

Envirobeat’s James George reported in Paris during the COP21 talks in Paris, where leaders and negotiators from around the world forged a global agreement to address climate change.

See Envirobeat’s reports from COP21

James George asks the panel a question at a COP21 press briefing

COP21 was the second COP covered by Envirobeat.

In a press conference in Copenhagen’s COP15 in 2009, James George asked US Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern whether the United States, as the world leader in cumulative carbon emissions, had economic obligations to developing nations – a “climate debt”. Stern’s answer became the basis of the New York Times lead climate story the following day. In COP21 today, the struggle over financial commitments remains contentious.

During a COP21 press conference on Dec 4, Todd Stern made a similar comment while discussing ‘loss and damages’ – while the U.S. would participate, no reference to’ liability or compensation’ could be part of the agreement. With the enormous price tag of mega storms, droughts, fires, and other extreme events around the world – events considered by many to be evidence that the impacts of climate change are already beginning to be felt – the U.S. may need to avoid what could potentially become an unlimited liability as damages become increasingly expensive with increasing heat fueling events. Others have said that all language hinting at legal obligations was left out to avoid requiring a treaty ratification which would not be approved in the U.S. Senate.

Envirobeat will continue to ask key questions and report on issues. If you’d like to play a role in supporting our work,  contact us.

Envirobeat Director James George with UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres at her talk in San Francisco before COP21 began

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