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By blocking Article 2.2 justice and rights issues, the U.S. is on the wrong side of history

by Tim Damon, SustainUS delegate

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U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change Todd Stern speaking at a press conference December 4th.

Today at his 14:30 press conference, lead U.S. negotiator Todd Stern had to ask an observer for clarification about the specific content of Article 2.

Fortunately for Todd, he isn’t missing much, considering that his team has been pushing all week to remove an entire paragraph (2.2) outlining human rights, intergenerational equity, gender equality, the rights of indigenous people’s rights, and many other references widely considered essential to the Paris Agreement. They even support the “no text” option for the whole Article 2.

The U.S. has insisted that having these crucial principles placed in the Preamble is sufficient. And they are winning, as the current text as cut the broad spectrum of civil society concerns down to only two issues: “human rights” and “gender equality”. Gone are: intergenerational equity, the rights of indigenous peoples, a just transition of the workforce, food security, sustainable development, a right to health, and many other elements. They don’t want “duplications”.

The point the U.S. is missing, is that we also need these elements reflected in the Article 2.2, where they will provide all parties with “specific operational context” for their implementation of the Paris Agreement. Without them, why even bother having a “Purpose” section at all? Oh wait, that actually is the U.S. position – not having a real Article 2. But maybe the “no text” option wouldn’t be such a bad thing; it would show, loud and clear, just how meaningless the U.S. version of the Paris Agreement really is, one without a clear purpose.

As a young U.S. citizen, I will not sit quietly while they try to ignore these elements that so many other countries and civil society groups are demanding. And as a young person generally, I will not accept an Agreement without “intergenerational equity” stated in Article 2.2.

For what “Purpose” does any of this have, if not to ensure present and future generations inhabit a world safe from climate devastation?

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