A legally binding international treaty on climate change should be the ultimate target

Marrakech, Morocco hosted the22nd Conference of Parties for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC)-COP22 between 7th-18th November 2016. This conference also acted as the first session of the conference of Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1), which entered into force on 4th November.

Several world leaders and state representatives recommitted themselves to the implementation of the Paris Agreement- a positive step in combating climate change. The remaining challenge though, is still the lack of an international legally binding mechanism to punish climate change defaulters.

The outcomes of the Paris Agreement were great but were non-binding and therefore not an international treaty. Countries voluntarily set their national targets for carbon emissions, a serious weakness, since it’s not an obligation.

Coal- the main source of human carbon emissions wasn’t properly addressed in the Paris Agreement and thus puts the planet at the mercy of the biggest polluters: Unites States, China and India, they have no legal obligation to stop doing so, it all depends on their will.

More to that, there was no agreement on including Carbon tax in the Paris agreement which would have impacted transporters and power suppliers to change their decisions and start limiting their carbon emissions.

The Marrakech summit was a positive step towards the implementation of the Paris agreement, world leaders recommitted themselves to take action on climate change and sustainable development, what remains to be seen are the tangible actions by individual states.

A legally binding international treaty on climate change should be the ultimate target for all concerned parties in order to seriously reduce global warming and safeguard our planet.

/Frank Habineza 

President, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda

President, African Greens Federation

Honorary Doctorate in Democracy and Human Rights, Bethel collage, USA 

Don’t give EU aid money to arms companies

The EU commission has presented a 100 million EUR proposal, using for first time, the EU budget for strengthening the military in third countries. The idea is to help fund poorer countries’ military in the fields of training, mentoring and to provide infrastructural military services. This new EU policy is officially called “capacity building in support of security and development” (CBSD). The money will be channelled via the EU’s Instrument for Stability and Peace, a fund previously used only for civilian purposes.

This would be a game changer for the EU, since it would militarize the EU’s previously civilian budget, something unthinkable only a couple of years ago. In practice aid money could be given to European arms companies to develop new equipment and services, later to be sold to third countries – for example communication and radar technology. Other countries could likely follow. This could risk changing the interpretation of development aid worldwide, hollowing out development aid meant to reduce poverty and spur long-term economic development.

However, the proposal has caused a stir among the peace movement as well as with the development community, who fear that the money will be taken from aid project for poverty reduction and other long-term civilian purposes. More than 60 000 people have already signed an online petition against the CBSD initiative and member states like Sweden, Ireland and Luxembourg are questioning its legal and practical consequences.

The Greens have spearheaded the opposition against the CBSD initiative in the European Parliament and on a national level. While we underline the link between to development and security, we emphasize that one should not exclude the other – we have do to both. We cannot trade short-term security for long-term development. There is nothing wrong with capacity building in itself, but the money should not be taken out of the EU’s budget for development and given to the arms companies.

While the internationally accepted development aid criteria (DAC) allow some aid money to be used for receiving refugees etc., CBSD is different, both in terms of scale and content. The legal services from all three EU institutions have already declared that the CBSD initiative is not compatible with EU law. Diverting development funds into military capacity building could open the gates for anything to be called aid; leaving little if any money for real development and poverty reduction.

For the Greens, the long-term approach to politics is in our political DNA. It is what we were founded upon. However, we cannot fight this alone. As more people are discovering the CBSD initiative, we have a better chance of stopping it. It is common sense really: our aid money should never be going to the arms companies.

/Bodil Valero

Member of the European Parliament for the Swedish Greens (Miljöpartiet de gröna)

Work, work, work, work, or?

We live in a society of achievement and performance, where saying “yes, of course I can” is the default and having a fully booked calendar is a sign of success. You achieve more, produce more, pushing towards the top because whatever you want you can get if you work hard enough. Team that up with the pressure of having alone time, going to the gym, having time for your partner, your kids, having a beautiful home, and that annoying hash tag #norest that is trending all over Instagram.

Not surprisingly, stress-related illness is soaring across Europe. According to a European opinion poll conducted by the EU-OSHA, more than half of workers report that work-related stress is a common problem in their workplace. In the UK, a recent survey revealed that 51 per cent of full-time employees have experienced anxiety or burnout in their current job. In Sweden, the employment office’s statistics show that currently 35,000 people are on sick leave due to exhaustion or burn out. What the statistics also show is that women are more affected than men, making it a question of gender equality.

Moreover, it is also a matter of democracy when parts of the population, read women and especially young women, are stepping down from positions and commitments prematurely due to stress, as this will lead to a skewed distribution of power.

In my first post on this blog I wrote about the concept of doughnut economics and the importance of staying within our planetary boundaries to ensure sustainable social foundations and human wellbeing. Being sustainable and resilient as human beings, having the space to rest from constant demands is equally important to have a sustainable society.

And this is the point; burnout is a structural problem not an individual one. It is a reflection of our economic system shouting at us to achieve and produce more. In our professional life and in our personal ones. But remember, you are more than your productivity. Way more.

/Anna Tranberg

Works with research and innovation at the Swedish governmental agency for innovation systems

Federation of Young European Greens COP21 delegate