So, what was the deal in Paris? Adam Vaughan, of “The Guardian” sheds some light for us on what appears like a very controversial agreement in which everybody agreed to have vey ambitious but not binding commitments. It is worth recalling that the Guardian is the only newspaper who undertook a campaign to plede the end of the fossil era… Keep it in the Ground… ———————————–
I’ve just returned from Paris, where exhausted delegates from 195 countriesagreed on the first ever universal deal on climate change.
There was no end of superlatives for the Paris Agreement. It would be a turning point in human history, transformative, momentous, historical, according to François Hollande, Ban Ki-moon, Al Gore and the many other dignitaries in the French capital.
This deal would be a game-changer and redefine future economic development, Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank president, told my colleague Fiona Harvey.
The atmosphere at COP21, where the deal was struck after several sleepless days and last minute haggling over a verb in the 31-page text, was unprecedented in two decades of climate talks, according to veterans of the negotiations.
When Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister and president of the talks, announced the deal’s adoption and brought down his leaf-shaped gavel, the halls of the summit erupted with applause. UN and French officials laughed, hugged, held hands aloft on stage and gave thumbs-up to the crowd. Even journalists clapped.
Not everyone thinks the deal goes far enough, and the carbon curbs it’s linked to are entirely voluntary. But, as Barack Obama put it, the Paris Agreement is the “best chance” we have of stopping dangerous global warming.
- How the deal was done
- The deal at a glance
- Countries signal fossil fuel phase-out
- The Guardian view on the deal
Keeping temperature rises below 1.5C
Governments have agreed to limit warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels: something that would have seemed unthinkable just a few months ago.
There is a scientific rationale for the number. John Schellnhuber, a scientist who advises Germany and the Vatican, says 1.5C marks the point where there is a real danger of serious “tipping points” in the world’s climate.
The goal of 1.5C is a big leap below the 2C that nearly 200 countries agreed as a limit six years ago in Copenhagen. But bear in mind we’ve already hit 1C, and recent data shows no sign of a major fall in the global emissions driving the warming.
As many of the green groups here in Paris note, the 1.5C aspiration is meaningless if there aren’t measures for hitting it.
Pledges to curb emissions
Before the conference started, more than 180 countries had submitted pledges to cut or curb their carbon emissions (intended nationally defined contributions, or INDCs, in the UN jargon). These are not sufficient to prevent global temperatures from rising beyond 2C – in fact it is thought they will lead to a 2.7C rise or higher.
The INDCs are recognised under the agreement, but are not legally binding.
Long-term global goal for net zero emissions
Countries have promised to try to bring global emissions down from peak levels as soon as possible. More significantly, they pledged “to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century”.
Experts say, in plain English, that means getting to “net zero emissions” between 2050 and 2100. The UN’s climate science panel says net zero emissions must happen by 2070 to avoid dangerous warming.
Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute said the long-term goal was “transformational” and “sends signals into the heart of the markets”.
Take stock every five years
187 countries have put forward their plans for how to cut and curb their emissions beyond 2020, as far out as 2030.
But those pledges are not enough to keep warming below 2C, beyond which climate change is expected to have catastrophic impacts. According to several analyses, the plans will see around 2.7-3C.
That’s why the text has a review mechanism to ramp up those pledges every five years, in order to make them strong enough to keep under 2C. The first stocktake will happen in 2018, but the first one under the deal happens in 2023. The text promises that parties “shall undertake … [the] first global stocktake in 2023 and every five years”.
Loss and damage
The deal includes loss and damage, a mechanism for addressing the financial losses vulnerable countries face from climate impacts such as extreme weather.
But it also includes a clause that will keep the US happy – that it won’t face financial claims from vulnerable countries hit by climate change: it “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation”.
Finance to help developing countries adapt to climate change and transition to clean energy was an important sticking point in the negotiations. This part of the deal has been moved into the non-legally binding “decision text” – a sop to the US, which knows it would not be able to get such a pledge of cash past the Republican-controlled Senate.
The draft text says that the countries “intend to continue their existing collective mobilisation goal through 2025”. That means the flow of $100bn (£66bn) a year will continue beyond 2020. By 2025 the draft agreement undertakes to improve on that “from a floor of $100bn”.