Climate Win?

Climate Win?

31 December, 2015
COP21 Update
Almost 200 countries aspire to keep temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius

After much planning, petitioning, posturing, pontificating, and negotiating, the curtains have closed on COP21 and a new era may just be beginnning.
The UN climate conference ran from the 30th Nov – 11th Dec 2015, with the final days running into overtime in the deterimination to create something that would count as a success.
Things were looking grim from the start; by the 10th day, organisations such as Friends of the Earth (FoE) were launching demonstrations at the climate summit site, concerned about the weak state of affairs within, and the failure of politicians to create even a workable, progressive draft.
A statement released by FoE laid it bare: "Instead of agreeing ways to implement the existing UN climate convention, we are witnessing attempts to dismantle it by developed countries who are looking for ways to escape their responsibilities.”
But work continued, and after arduous negotiations a final draft text was completed. Entitled the Paris Agreement, the final draft text was a far cry from the original draft; it had no more brackets present to incidicate disagreement on the text, and for the first time all the participating countries successfully came together based on their historic, present and future climate-related responsibilities.
The universal agreement is to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius, with the aim of further preventing temperature increase above 1.5 degrees Celsius. The 1.5 degrees Celsius restriction is a notably safer defense boundary line for the prevention of possible negative outcomes of climate change. This has proven to be a historical agreement between almost 195 nations in Paris for a low carbon, resilient and sustainable global future.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon commended the efforts undertaken by country leaders: “We have entered a new era of global cooperation on one of the most complex issues ever to confront humanity. For the first time, every country in the world has pledged to curb emissions, strengthen resilience and join in common cause to take common climate action. This is a resounding success for multilateralism.”
The UN Climate Conference and the Paris Agreement covers all the major issues, which were identified as necessary for a landmark conclusion.

  • Mitigation – quickly reducing emission in a timely manner to reach temperature goal.
  • Transparency – a transparency system and global stock-take to account for climate action.
  • Adaptation – improving the nations’ ability to tackle the effects of climate change.
  • Loss and Damage – improving the ability to recover from climatic impact.
  • Support – having access to finance for countries to construct clean and sustainable futures.

Countries will continue to submit updated national climate plans, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs), every 5 years detailing their future targets in addressing climate change. This will slowly but surely increase each nation’s initiatives in the long run, with the aim to substantially decelerate greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
Before the year 2020, countries will continue to engage in mitigation opportunities and further focus on adaptation opportunities. They will also decide on a way of garnering much needed climate finance, totalling USD $100 billion, by 2020. The transparency system will clarify efforts required of each country with added flexibility depending on their capabilities. The Paris Agreement also permits adequate support to developing countries so that a global goal can be made possible to strengthen climate adaptation through international support and cooperation.
And things look promising. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said: We have seen unparalleled announcements of financial support for both mitigation and adaptation from a multitude of sources both before and during the COP. [This] is of critical importance to the most vulnerable.”
After the approval of the Paris Agreement by COP, it will be placed at the UN in New York, where it will await country signatures on the 22nd April 2016 – Mother Earth Day.
Once the 55 nations responsible for at least 55 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions have submitted their instruments of ratification, the agreement will come into effect.
It's a long road ahead, but we've taken the first step.
Photo courtesy of presidenciamx, via flickr.

By: Abbe Ho


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