Democracy Now! - December 11, 2015

Talks at the U.N. climate summit in Paris have been extended into the weekend as representatives from nearly 200 nations work to finalize a global accord. A new draft text includes the voluntary target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels. Including the 1.5 degrees Celsius target meets a key demand of low-lying and vulnerable nations. But environmentalists and civil society have criticized its voluntary nature along with many other provisions, including a failure to address gender equity; the weakening of access to financial assistance for vulnerable nations; the omission of specific dates for carbon cuts; and the failure to address military carbon emissions. The U.S. military alone uses $20 billion of energy a year—more than any other single U.S. consumer. We examine what is in the latest draft text—and what has been left out—with a roundtable of women: Chee Yoke Ling, a legal adviser to the Third World Network based in Malaysia; Ruth Nyambura, a Kenyan political ecologist; and Kandi Mossett, an indigenous activist from North Dakota and an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network. "We want to get out of this sinking ship, but countries like the U.S. are holding the lifeboats," Nyambura says.

"What we’re dealing with is a death by a thousand cuts," says North Dakota indigenous leader Kandi Mossett of the impact of the booming fracking and oil-drilling industry in her home state. "We’ve had violence against women increase by 168 percent, particularly in the area of rape," Mossett says. "We have 14-, 15- and 16-year-old girls that are willingly going into man camps [for oil workers] and selling themselves." She says the full impact of toxins from oil drilling won’t be felt for another 20 years. "I’m so worried that at this COP21 my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter won’t have a say, but she will be experiencing the worst impacts. It just doesn’t make any sense to me that this is the 21st COPand we are considered sacrifice zones in my community."

In 2006, Lord Nicholas Stern, the prominent British climate economist and former chief economist of the World Bank, published a pioneering report, "The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change." We speak to Lord Stern about where we stand almost a decade after he published the nearly 700-page report and what he would like to see come out of COP21. "I hope historians will see this as a turning point, that the world got together to change direction to say we are now moving together towards the low-carbon economy, that this is the great story of the future," Stern says. "This is the way that we can get secure growth. This is the way we can get clean growth."

While in attendance at the U.N. climate summit, Lord Nicholas Stern, the prominent British climate economist and former chief economist of the World Bank, weighs in on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s denial of the human impact on climate change. "It’s straight wrong," Stern says. "If he’s got new scientific results that overturn 200 years of science and the vast bulk of the science literature, I’m sure that he ought to be publishing them and that the scientific journals would love to see what he has to write."

Broadcasting from COP21, where 200 nations are in the final stretch of negotiations aimed at reaching an accord to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, we speak with a scientist who has spent the last two decades tracking global warming from one of the front lines—Greenland’s ice sheets. From 2008 to 2012, Jason Box was the lead author of the Greenland section of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s annual climate change report. In 2012, he was one of the first scientists to warn there would be surface melting across the entirety of Greenland within a decade—a prediction that drew scorn from many in the scientific community, until the melting began only a few months later. Box has also participated in protests against climate change, including the 2011 mass protest at the White House. His most recent piece for The New Yorker, co-authored with Naomi Klein, is "Why a Climate Deal is the Best Hope for Peace."

Leading glaciologist Jason Box was an expert witness in a mock trial of Exxon held at COP21, which examined how the oil giant concealed its own findings dating back to the 1970s that fossil fuels cause global warming, alter the climate and melt the Arctic ice. "They take a public position that is counter to their own science, in effect lying to the public on issues just to keep their product sellable. That cost us 20 years," Box says. "If they had come straight and recognized themselves as an energy company, they could have made that transition with us to cleaner energy and remained a viable company. Now they’re a rogue company."

On Tuesday, as the sun rose in Paris, a delegation of indigenous people from Sarayaku, in the Ecuadorean Amazon, set out in a handmade, wooden canoe along the Villette Canal. The Kichwa people of Sarayaku have been fighting oil exploitation on their lands for many years; in 2012 they won a case at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights against the Ecuadorean government for permitting oil drilling on their land. Democracy Now!'s Juan Carlos Dávila and Amy Littlefield were there as the Sarayaku launched their canoe after its 6,000-mile journey from the Amazon. "Those who are actually negotiating right now, they might not have to live with the consequences of climate change, but I will," Nina Gualinga, a Kichwa activist from Sarayaku, says of the COP21 negotiations. "Who are they to decide over my future, over my sister's future, over my children’s future?"

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