COP21: Historic Deal Reached at UN Summit on Climate Change

Leaders and negotiators from almost 200 countries reached an unprecedented agreement on global climate change in Paris on Saturday (12th December 2015) after years of fruitless attempts to create a legally binding deal to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Delegates from 195 nations came together to reach a historic deal on climate change.

Delegates from 195 nations came together to reach a historic deal on climate change.

Representatives from the political and business worlds are already hailing the deal a success, with U.S. President Barack Obama, describing it as “the best chance we have to save the one planet we have”, and calling the Paris summit a “turning point” towards a low-carbon future [1]. WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development), an organisation of business leaders that pushes for industry to be more sustainable, also said that the agreement shows “the transition to a low-carbon economy is unstoppable” [2].

The key points in the final agreement [3] are:

  • To keep global temperature increase to “well below” 2 C by the end of the century and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 C.
  • To peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance of sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.
  • For $100bn per year in climate finance to be provided to developing nations by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future.
  • To review progress every five years.

These deals were by no means simple to agree on, the talks lasted for two weeks and the first draft that was released contained no less than 900 square brackets denoting areas the delegates had yet to agree on. Nevertheless, negotiators from key nations (including the U.S., China and India) eventually gave their approval to a draft accord presented by the host nation, France.

French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, addressing the delegation

French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, addressing the delegation

French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, was then able to bring the historic summit to an end as relieved ministers stood for several minutes to applaud.

“I see the room; I see the reaction is positive. I hear no objection. The Paris climate accord is adopted” Fabius declared as he officially ended the summit with the knock of a small green hammer, adding “It may be a small gavel, but it can do big things”. [4]

 

For more information on the issues this UN agreement is aiming to tackle, see our previous article on the lead up to the Paris talks here.

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Laurent Fabius presided over the talks, pictured here with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and French President François Hollande.

 

References:

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35086346

[2] https://twitter.com/wbcsd/status/675774708084776961

[3] http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09r01.pdf

[4] http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/12/world-leaders-history-climate-deal-paris-151212162907874.html

 

Feature image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/la_bretagne_a_paris/

Image 1: https://www.flickr.com/photos/138191424@N06/

Images 2 and 3: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cop21/

 

 

 

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