Plan International welcomes many aspects of the Paris Agreement, signed by the governments of 195 countries at COP21. However, we are concerned over issues around financing adaptation and the importance of human rights in the response to climate change.
We are encouraged to see countries agreeing to limit the global temperature rise to well below 2 °C, aiming to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C. This represents a clear acknowledgement that global action on climate change must safeguard the futures of the most vulnerable people and countries. It is now essential that concrete action be taken to ensure that warming is kept as low as possible.
We are pleased to see that countries have agreed that greenhouse gas emissions must peak soon and net emissions must fall to zero. All countries now need to step up efforts to reduce their own emissions to make good on this global goal.
The impacts of climate change threaten to undermine a range of human rights. Children’s rights are being particularly affected and the poorest children will be the hardest hit.
The inequity of climate change impacts will also be felt across generations. Children and future generations, who have not contributed to the current problem of climate change, will bear the brunt of future impacts.
We are encouraged to see that the preamble to the agreement acknowledges the importance of protecting and respecting all human rights in countries’ responses to climate change. The recognition of children’s rights is also an important inclusion. However, this could have gone further and we were very disappointed that references to human rights throughout the rest of the agreement were removed. We are also disappointed to see weak references to intergenerational equity.
Tackling climate change relies on protecting the rights of the most vulnerable groups, including children, women, those living in poverty, migrants, indigenous peoples and more. We urge all countries to adopt rights based approaches in their responses to climate change.
Adaptation and building resilience are critical components of the response to climate change. We are pleased to see that adaptation is included as a goal of the agreement, and that the urgent and immediate needs of the most vulnerable are recognised.
Adaptation must be done in a gender-responsive, participatory and transparent way with a specific focus on the most vulnerable. We call on all countries to ensure that the specific needs and rights of children are a key focus of their adaptation efforts and that children and young people are able to participate in climate change adaptation.
Climate change adaptation imposes a large financial burden, particularly on the poorest countries. It is disappointing that the agreement does not provide enough clarity on how climate finance will be scaled up to meet the scale of the challenge, or include specific commitments on finance for climate change adaptation.
Climate change education, as part of education for sustainable development, increases the adaptive capacity of children and their communities, helps to foster environmental stewardship and thus contribute to climate change mitigation, and develops children’s capacity to be agents of change and active citizens. Plan International is pleased to see that the new agreement reaffirms the important role of climate change education.