UN adopts draft climate change deal in Paris

December 5, 2015

Climate change experts and negotiators from 195 nations agreed on a draft this afternoon for a pact to save mankind from disastrous global warming, raising hopes that decades of arguments will finally end with a historic deal in Paris.The planned pact would aim to break the world dependence on fossil fuels, slashing the greenhouse gas emissions from burning oil, coal and gas that are causing temperatures to rise dangerously.Negotiators finalised the draft after an often tense talks in Le Bourget on the northern outskirts of Paris.However, ministers still need to resolve many extremely contentious points during a scheduled five days of talks starting on Monday, but delegates are said to have felt the foundations had been laid for success. Money has long been one of the biggest sticking points in the UN negotiations, and it remains so in Paris.A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development estimated climate finance flows to developing countries reached $62 billion in 2014. Climate change could also push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 by disrupting agriculture and fuelling the spread of malaria and other diseases, the World Bank said in a recent report that was released just weeks ahead of a U.N. climate summit in Paris, the report highlighted how the impact of global warming is borne unevenly, with the world’s poor woefully unprepared to deal with climate shocks such as rising seas or severe droughts.

The adoption of a draft text of an agreement is dense 48-page document agrees on the need for urgent action to combat climate change, but contains wide gaps on the most contentious issues. Less developed countries are demanding finance to pay for the costly shift to renewable technologies, as well as to cope with the impact of climate change and they say rich nations are refusing to honour previous commitments to muster 100 billion euros a year from 2020 to finance the shift to clean energy and shore up climate defenses. Developing countries have fewer resources and receive less support from family, community, the financial system, and even social safety nets to prevent, cope and adapt and as one of those keenly following events in Paris, I can only hope for a positive outcome. How to help poor countries and poor communities within countries deal with climate change is one of the crunch issues in talks on a global climate accord that’s should be addressed.The statistics are suitably shocking and I hope they force world leaders to sit up and take notice.No doubt the Paris deal needs to support the poor and vulnerable communities to cope with unavoidable climate crises better, and to be more resilient to a changed climate.Despite pledges to rein in emissions of carbon dioxide and other global warming gases, climate change isn’t likely to stop anytime soon.Carbon emissions are expected to rise for many years as China, India and other developing countries expand the use of fossil fuels to power their economies.

Efforts to protect the poor, such as generally improving access to health care and social safety nets, and targeted measures to upgrade flood defenses and deploy more heat-tolerant crops could prevent most of the negative consequences of climate change on poverty especially in Africa.Scientists warn our planet will become increasingly hostile for mankind as it warms, with rising sea levels that will consume islands and eat away at populated coasts, as well as catastrophic storms and droughts.Small island nations vulnerable to rising sea levels, which are often railroaded by the powerful in the climate talks, also expressed cautious optimism about the draft agreement.But no one in Le Bourget is optimistic that a December 11 deal is guaranteed.An Australian Scientist attending the event in Paris told me that these pledges, if fulfilled, would still fall far short of what is needed to cap warming at 2.0 degrees Celsius equivalent to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit below pre-Industrial Revolution levels. He does believe there is deep disagreement on how to structure a review process for these national plans.The stock takes would take place every five years but there is division over when they would begin and if they would seek to strengthen countries commitments, or just review them. Another fundamental issue still up for debate is what temperature limit to aim for. A majority of nations, mostly the smaller ones, want to aim for 1.5 degrees C.The United States, China, India and some of the other biggest polluting nations want to enshrine 2 degrees C as the goal, which would allow them to emit more gases for longer.

Contador Harrison