“The Paris Accord passes,” said Laurent Fabius, triumphantly describing the successful outcome of COP21 Paris Climate Conference he oversaw as its president. As his green gavel struck the table, thousands of cheering delegates leapt to their feet.
195 countries and the EU approved the COP21 Climate Agreement on Saturday, December 12, 2015–a historic global accord to stop global warming and tackle climate change.
Though negotiations stretched ’til Saturday, at the end, no one seemed to mind much that an extra day had been added to the already-long COP. And the good news was much needed in Paris, nearly one month to the day of the horrific November terrorist attacks.
The UN Climate Agreement is just the beginning of an uphill battle–imperfect and requiring a lot of work from all countries in order to make a difference. Here are major points:
• Global temperature increase limited to 1.5°C (3°F). This is more ambitious than the initially proposed 2° limit and shows that negotiators took seriously the needs of low-lying island states which are in danger of disappearing as ice caps melt. But, we’ve already used up 2/3 of that temperature increase and we’ll need to *increase* carbon absorption, not just limit emissions.
• 2050 deadline for halting the temperature rise. De facto, this is also the deadline for the transition to renewable energy sources.
• The principle of “differentiation” (common but differentiated responsibilities) which holds that, while climate change respects no national boundaries and must be tackled globally, not all countries equally contribute to global warming. And so, developed countries are encouraged to invest in “technology transfers” to developing countries to help offset the hurdles and costs of not using quick & cheap fossil fuels.
• Human rights, indigenous rights, and climate justice have been shunted to the Preamble, not the actionable part of the agreement… or entirely omitted from the text.