January 11, 2016

While world leaders committed to making the world carbon-neutral by 2050 at the December climate change conference in Paris, a Development and Peace officer says the deal is far from perfect.

"I don't think it's the perfect deal for the most vulnerable or for climate justice," said Geneviève Talbot, research and advocacy officer with the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.

Nevertheless, Talbot maintains the global agreement reached among 195 countries in Paris was "the best deal we could have had."

The pact makes a firm commitment to a two-degree cap on warming, but also sets an aspirational goal of 1.5 degrees over pre-industrial levels.

Any warming above the 1.5 degree mark would result in more catastrophic weather events - from hurricanes and tornadoes to freak rainstorms and interminable droughts - said the final agreement.

The UN-brokered deal is based on the principle that rich, developed nations who have benefited most in the age of fossil fuels must do the heavy lifting in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping poor countries adapt to their changing climate.


Talbot shares with Pope Francis the belief that a lot of work remains to be done to protect the poor of the world on a warming globe. The pope's June encyclical on the environment played an important role in pushing the global diplomatic corps into a more meaningful and ambitious agreement, said Talbot.

"Laudato Si' was quite powerful in bringing the discussion to the 1.5 degree (goal), for example," she told The Catholic Register.

Pope Francis' plea for the environment also had an important role to play in ensuring the principle that rich, carbon-based economies must do more than poor countries still struggling to provide for their people, Talbot said.

Although the Paris agreement lacks enforcement provisions to bind countries to their commitments, that fact should not simply be accepted as is, Talbot said.

"Why would a trade agreement be more binding than a climate agreement?" she asked.

Development and Peace estimates the oil and coal industries in Canada get $8 billion per year in direct and indirect subsidies. In 2014 the Pembina Institute calculated direct subsidies unique to the oil industry come to $1.3 billion per year.