COP21 Paris Agreement

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A deal to attempt to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2C was agreed at the UN climate change summit in Paris in December 2015 after two weeks of intense negotiations.

The deal is the first to commit all countries to cut carbon emissions which will come into being in 2020.The agreement is partly legally binding and partly voluntary. 195 countries had been working on the pact for the past four years after earlier attempts to reach such a deal failed.

The deal is based on a voluntary basis which allows nations to set their own voluntary CO2 targets and policies without any legally binding caps or international oversight. Some aspects of the agreement will be legally binding, such as submitting an emissions reduction target and the regular review of that goal.

The attempt to impose emissions targets on countries was one of the main reasons why the Copenhagen talks in 2009 failed and some say this was the reason legally binding targets were not set.

Some believe the result in Paris is an unequivocal signal to the business and financial communities that we are now on a sustainable low-carbon path and which can provide the framework for business to invest with confidence.

Others believe the deal undermines the rights of the world’s most vulnerable communities feeling the effects of climate change today as there is almost nothing binding to ensure a safe and liveable climate for future generations.

Key points

The measures in the agreement included:

  • To peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century
  • To keep global temperature increase “well below” 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C
  • To review progress every five years
  • $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future.

Carl Sargeant, the Welsh Government Minister for Natural Resources attended as part of the UK delegation and provided feedback from his visit at the Climate Change Commission for Wales’s Wales to Paris COP21 event in the Wales Millennium Centre. View a recording of the event here.

To read more and different perspectives about the Paris Agreement click the links below

Climate Outreach – An historic agreement in Paris – Now the hard work begins

The Guardian – Paris climate deal: nearly 200 nations sign in end of fossil fuel era

The Guardian – Cameron must make a climate U-turn immediately if he isn’t to betray Paris

The Guardian – Climate change deal: five reasons to be glad, five to be gloomy

Blog from Dr Andrew Kythreotis – from Cardiff University

Article from Kevin Anderson, Deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, UK.

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