An agreement was finally agreed on Saturday at the COP21 UN Climate Change talks in Paris.
Some thought that an agreement could never be reached due to the differences in opinion between the developed nations, the developing nations and the small island nations, however an historic agreement has been agreed.
Not only does the text secure binding agreement from both developed and developing countries to keep temperature increases “well below” 2°C, it also calls for efforts to cap the increase at just 1.5°C over industrial levels. However it also noted that all countries will have to do more than currently pledged as the text states “Emphasizing with serious concern the urgent need to address the significant gap between the aggregate effect of Parties’ mitigation pledges in terms of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and aggregate emission pathways consistent with holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels”.
The agreement calls for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science. Before and during the Paris conference, countries submitted comprehensive national climate action plans to reduce their emissions. The sum total of the 185 intended nationally determined contributions prepared in advance of the Paris conference are not yet enough to keep the world below 2°C by the end of the century. However, the agreement traces the way to achieving this target.
To achieve this common ambition, governments agreed to come together every 5 years to set more ambitious targets as required by science. They also accepted to report to each other and the public on how well they are doing to implement their targets, to ensure transparency and oversight. A global stocktake will take place every five years. A robust transparency and accountability system will track progress towards the long-term goal.
The EU and other developed countries will continue to support climate action to reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change impacts in developing countries. Other countries are encouraged to provide or continue to provide such support voluntarily. Continued and enhanced international support for adaptation will be provided to developing countries. Developed countries intend to continue their existing collective goal to mobilise $100 billion per year until 2025 when a new collective goal will be set.
The agreement has not been hailed as a success by all. A leading climate scientist has denounced the Paris climate change agreement as a “fraud” – saying there is “no action, just promises”. Professor James Hansen – credited as being the “father of climate change awareness” – told the Guardian that the talks that culminated in a deal on Saturday were just “worthless words”.
The full agreement can be found at the following link