Gary Cranston - An Activist Speaks Up and Out on the Recent Paris Climate Agreement

Interviewed by Tim LynchJanuary 20, 2016
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Scientists are convinced that anything above the 2 degree mark locks in changes to the planetary climate beyond civilization's adaptive capacity.

For some climate activists, like Gary Cranston, the accord was an exercise in empty, feel-good promise making. For example, a group of climate scientists recently submitted a letter to The Independent calling the agreement ""false hope"" and full of ""deadly flaws."" They cited the fact that the CO2 reduction commitments in the agreement don't kick in until 2020. By that time, the scientists argue, so much more CO2 will have been pumped into the atmosphere that we may already be locked into warming, pushing us above the 2 degree line.

Of course the economy has everything to gain from this agreement. The Paris Agreement could have provided an unprecedented and unique opportunity for the transition to a low-carbon economy to become main-stream, but as a lot of green technology stands to get massive gain, one could say COP21 was covered by green-wash; the targets were too low; and the intentions unclear. Gary makes it clear that until new economies come to the fore and replace growth based capitalism, we will not succeed in real change. This would be the opinion of Naomi Klein, author of, “This Changes Everything”, whom Gary met in Paris.

The New Zealand Government was caught trying to get countries to sign up to a secret global declaration on carbon trading. This would mean continuing on as it has been before under the now completed Kyoto Protocol. New Zealand has been good at using creative accounting as well as carbon trading to make it look like our emissions are lower than they really are.

Gary Cranston was sent to Paris by Unite Union as a union delegate. He describes how while formal negotiations went on, there were a wealth of activities going on all over the city. There was lobbying by businesses, unions and NGOs. There was a People’s Climate Summit which went on for three days with speakers such as Naomi Klein, and Jeremy Corbyn, from the British Labour Party.

On his very informative web site Gary writes, “Yes, there is an agreement, but at what price and with what contents? What of environmental or social justice? It is but an empty shell acceptable to developed countries – and to the overpowering multinationals present at the COP. However, people and countries – especially those in the global South – who are already the victims of global warming, will continue to foot the bill for irresponsible policies laid out without any thought for their consequences.”

There is much concern because “the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations, and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity” were all left out of the agreement. They are in the preamble but not in the main body of the text.

Gary also says that nothing was really agreed to, because on the last day the legal document had the word ‘shall’ changed to the word ‘should’, thus putting the legality of the document into question. He questions the motivations of the New Zealand Green Party and others, in celebrating an agreement void of substance and justice.

Originally from Dublin, Gary Cranston is an organiser with Unite Union, with a background in climate justice campaigning. He has worked at the frontline of fossil fuel extraction projects, from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales to isolated Maori communities. Gary has also been working at the frontline of today's struggles for workers rights having organised workers throughout the successful campaign to end the use of Zero Hour Contracts in New Zealand's fast food industry.""

This programme is sponsored by The Awareness Party.

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Tim Lynch

Tim Lynch, is a New Zealander, who is fortunate in that he has whakapapa, or a bloodline that connects him to the Aotearoan Maori. He has been involved as an activist for over 40 years - within the ecological, educational, holistic, metaphysical, spiritual & nuclear free movements. He sees the urgency of the full spectrum challenges that are coming to meet us, and is putting his whole life into being an advocate for todays and tomorrows children. 'To Mobilise Consciousness.'

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