Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 15th 2015 Contents A29
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People with names that suggest they
are black are being discriminated against
on room sharing site AirBnB, a Harvard
A survey of more than 6,000 hosts in
five US cities concluded that names that
sounded African-American were about 16
per cent less likely to get a positive
response to a request for a room when
compared against white-sounding names
like Brad or Kristen.
In a statement, AirBnB admitted it
faced "significant challenges" over the
issue. It invited collaboration with "anyone
that can help us reduce potential
discrimination in the Airbnb community".
It added: "We are in touch with the
authors of this study and we look forward
to a continuing dialogue with them."
AirBnB is an online service which allows
people to rent out rooms in their homes,
or even entire properties. The site has has
more than two million listings in more
than 190 countries.
The study was carried out by a trio of
Harvard Business School researchers.
They noted that AirBnB's model of
presenting lots of detail about both hosts
and guests paved the way for
Laurence Tubiana, COP 21/CMP 11 Presidency; UNFCCC Executive Secretary
Christiana Figueres; UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; COP 21/CMP 11
President Laurent Fabius, Foreign Minister, France; and President François
Hollande, France, celebrate the adoption of the Paris Agreement.
PHOTO: IISD REPORTING SERVICES
Blacks more likely to face discrimination on AirBnB
The current model we are operating in is
crucially unsustainable for the long-term
survival of the human race. Impacts of cli-
mate change such as droughts, intense
storms, and sea level rise have accelerated
However, we are in a transformational
moment---The Paris moment.
It presents an opportunity to create a dif-
ferent world, one where people s lives could
be significantly better through promoting
cleaner and more efficient methods of pow-
After conflicting opinions appended an extra
day of negotiations to COP21 in Paris, 196
countries have produced a final agreement.
This may bring us closer to putting the
ghosts of the industrial revolution six feet
under. Countries seem to be largely satisfied
with the language of the text and agreed to
work on the Paris document as a pathway to
a green future.
Will The Paris Agreement save us from cli-
mate change and provide a stable, healthy,
and prosperous future for people around the
world? These are the outcomes of the key
Finance for adaptation and mitigation
Finance is of paramount importance to the
agreement as all mitigation and adaptation
measures are essentially dependent on avail-
ability and access to funds.
The agreement refers to the provision of
scaled-up financial resources with a floor of
USD $100 billion---which now is extended to
2025---and balanced between adaptation and
However, the agreement refers to ensuring
efficient access to financial resources (which
so far has been a major hurdle) for many vul-
The adaptation gap remains an issue, as
existing funds lag far behind actual adaptation
needs. The good thing inside the agreement
is the linking of mitigation and adaptation,
saying that the more countries reduce emis-
sions, the less other countries have to adapt.
Loss and damage
In the lead-up to COP 21, developing coun-
tries stood their ground with regard to the
adverse effects of climate change which are
Formally called Loss and Damage, this issue
is contentious because it brings into question
liability and compensation for developed coun-
It does, however, cater for support directed
toward "minimising" and "averting" loss and
damage such as early warning systems and
emergency preparedness; it is also now stands
separate from adaptation.
Long-term goal on 1.5°C
Although they recognise the significant gap
between the mitigation pledges and what is
needed to hold the decreased average global
temperatures in the long run, countries have
agreed to work toward a goal of 2°C above
pre-industrial levels, while pursuing "efforts
to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C."
This is a major accomplishment for developing
countries and environmental NGOs who put
up a united fight for vulnerable countries. A
1.5°C target is necessary to drive the ongoing
ambition needed for the survival of many vul-
This ensures that commitments made by
countries will be reviewed every five years so
that there will not be any regressing.
A regular five-year review cycle ensures
ambition can be maintained, reviewed and
scaled up. With a good ratchet mechanism,
countries will have no choice but to have
aspiring commitments over time. The first
collective stocktake will be in 2018 and the
first global stocktake under the agreement
will be in 2023.
In the words of Diana Liverman, director
at Institute of Environment, University of Ari-
zona: "This recognition of rights and partic-
ular groups is a modest win for many con-
cerned with climate justice, but will now have
to be translated into action so that mitigation, a
daptation, loss and damage, finance and tech-
nology transfer explicitly consider how these po
licies affect, and hopefully benefit, human
rights, women and other groups."
Human rights is integral to the climate
agreement because this means we can ensure
that people impacted by climate change will
Human rights is now only in the preamble
section of the agreement. It s not as strong
However, Tony Braum, Minister of Foreign
Affairs of the Republic of the Marshall Islands,
told the eager audience that "we have together
grasped this once-in-a-generation opportunity
to lay the foundation for a peaceful, prosperous
and safe planet for our children." He followed
this up with a beautiful gesture, passing the
microphone to an 18-year old girl from his
Selina Leem stated that the agreement is
for "those of us whose identity, whose culture,
whose ancestors, whose whole being, is bound
to their lands. I have only spoken about myself
and my islands but the same story will play
out everywhere in the world.
If this is a story about our islands, it is a
story for the whole world. Sometimes when
you want to make a change, then it is necessary
to turn the world upside down.
Because it is not for the better, but it is
simply for the best. This agreement should
be the turning point in our story; a turning
point for all of us."
It has been four years since hard work began
on this agreement in South Africa. Now, it is
time to move forward with this agreement,
which most delegations deem to be the best
Post COP21: A world in transition
Dizzanne Billy is president of the
Caribbean Youth Environment Network
(CYEN) in T&T, where she works in the
areas of education and public awareness
on environment and development issues.
She is a climate tracker with Adopt-A-
Negotiator and an advocate for climate
change action. This is the third, final
article she is writing for the T&T Guardian
from the COP21 climate talks in Paris.
This recognition of rights and particular groups is a modest win for many concerned with climate justice, but will now have to be translated into action so that mitigation,
adaptation, loss and damage, finance and technology transfer explicitly consider how these policies affect, and hopefully benefit, human rights, women and other groups.
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