Paris Climate Agreement: A Victory for the planet

December 12, 2015

World leaders have reacted with optimism after the signing of Paris Agreement that will limit the global warming to 2 degrees celcius. French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, who has been the president of the COP21, publicly announced the historic breakthrough and I watched the event live on Euro News, his announcement evoked a thunderous applause with the guests standing up to welcome the news.After two weeks of grinding negotiations in Paris, nations signed off on the new deal that aims to stop the emission of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere by the second half of the century. The Paris agreement, which will come into effect in 2020, will require all countries, rather than just the wealthy ones, to tackle climate change. The deal says the world will aim to stabilise global warming well below two degrees above pre-industrial levels, and less if possible. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon immediately congratulated the signatories of the Paris climate change accord which he called a “monumental triumph for people and the planet”.Ban said this while the political dignitaries and guests at the Paris United Nations conference on climate change went into an emotional outburst of joy, hugging each other and some even shedding tears of joy, as one UN diplomat put it.In a tweet immediately following the agreement, Ban also said that the accord had set the stage for progress in ending poverty, strengthening peace and ensuring a life of dignity and opportunity for all.”Setting a broad goal of eliminating the net increase in man-made greenhouse gas emission this century, the agreement does not mandate specific measures or targets.Instead, it creates a system for ensuring countries make good on voluntary domestic efforts to curb emissions, and provides billions more dollars to help poor nations cope with the transition to a greener economy.US President Barack Obama says it shows what is possible “when the world stands as one.” “Make no mistake, the Paris agreement establishes the enduring framework the world needs to solve the climate crisis,” he said. “This agreement represents the best chance we’ve had to save the one planet that we’ve got.”

Every country in the world that include all 196 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, pledged to curb emissions, strengthen resilience and join to take common climate action.China also welcomes the accord, but says there is still work to do. “It is true that the agreement is not perfect and there are some areas that are in need of improvement,” said Xie Zhenhua, China’s Special Envoy on Climate Change.“But this does not prevent us from taking historic steps forward.”With accord, now all countries have legally agreed to hold global temperature rise to well below two degrees Celsius. And recognising the risk of grave consequences, you have further agreed to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees. The Maldives described the climate accord as an “historic agreement.” “Though we must remember that history will judge us not by what we did today, but by what we do from this day forward,” commented Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of Environment and Energy. “For that is how the Paris agreement will be measured for future generations.” No doubt the Paris climate agreement was a remarkable achievement because of the unanimity of the accord.India Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the landmark climate change deal reached in Paris as the victory of “climate justice” and said there are no winners or losers in the outcome.Modi appreciated how every country rose to the challenge for reaching the agreement at the Conference of Parties (COP)-21 and said deliberations showed collective wisdom of the world leaders to mitigate climate change.“Outcome of ParisAgreement has no winners or losers. Climate justice has won and we are all working towards a greener future,” Modi tweeted, commenting on the legally-binding pact.“ClimateChange remains a challenge but ParisAgreement demonstrates how every nation rose to the challenge, working towards a solution,” the India Premier said in another tweet. Modi added: “Deliberations at COP21 and ParisAgreement demonstrates the collective wisdom of world leaders to mitigate climate change.”

A review mechanism was also created so that, every five years, starting 2018, the parties to the agreement will regularly review if additional measures are needed in conformation with science.The deal was not passed without a last-minute hiccup. As nations convened in the main plenary hall, the US was raising objections to the inclusion of the world “shall” instead of “should” in a reference to how developed countries take the lead on cutting emissions. It was a technical error, but posed serious legal issues for America.The US attempt to change the word saw some African nations also try make more substantive changes to the text. But with harmony potentially unravelling,China dissuaded African countries according to an insider who attended the meeting.The big division to overcome in the talks was that between industrialised nations, including the US and Australia, and the bigger emerging economies of China, India, Brazil and South Africa.Industrialised countries wanted to break down a differentiation over what is expected of developed and developing nations that has existed under the UN climate talks since they were established in 1992. The large emerging economies sought to maintain status quo.The new agreement factors in the circumstances of every other country in the world ranging from the least-developed African countries, to low-lying small island states, to forested South America nations.With ministers waiting nervously, the shall-should issue was resolved about an hour later and was included in a list of technical corrections that a UN official told the conference would be amended. Then the deal went through and rousing applause and tears of joy filled the conference centre as the deal was passed in the conference centre on the northern outskirts of Paris.

Scientists have for long warned that scale of increase would unlock more extreme weather and accelerate sea-level rises, among other impacts. In a bid to spur governments to lift their ambition, the Paris accord includes a series of reviews of emissions targets that countries will need to undertake.While the agreement seeks to limit warming to “well below two degrees”, it also asks countries to pursue efforts to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees. This was the central demand in Paris from vulnerable nations, such as low-lying Pacific islands and African countries as well. in 2015, temperatures have been on average one degree warmer than before the industrial era triggered a rapid rise in fossil fuel use and land clearing.Paris agreement says greenhouse gas emissions should reach a peak as soon as possible and then slide rapidly, so the total amount of atmospheric pollution is brought to zero by the latter half of the century.As part of asking the developing world to take on more action, industrialised nations agreed to deliver a minimum of $US100 billion a year in public and private funding to help poorer nations cope with the impacts of climate change and cut their emissions. That figure will be reviewed upwards in 2025.

Contador Harrison