Tag Archives: climate action

Historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change

COP21_DSC7501An historic agreement to combat climate change and unleash actions and investment towards a low carbon, resilient and sustainable future was agreed by 195 nations in Paris today.

The Paris Agreement for the first time brings all nations into a common cause based on their historic, current and future responsibilities.

The universal agreement’s main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The 1.5 degree Celsius limit is a significantly safer defense line against the worst impacts of a changing climate.

Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability to deal with the impacts of climate change.  

To reach these ambitious and important goals, appropriate financial flows will be put in place, thus making stronger action by developing countries and the most vulnerable possible, in line with their own national objectives.

“The Paris Agreement allows each delegation and group of countries to go back home with their heads held high. Our collective effort is worth more than the sum of our individual effort. Our responsibility to history is immense” said Laurent Fabius, President of the COP 21 UN Climate change conference and French Foreign Minister.

The minister, his emotion showing as delegates started to rise to their feet, brought the final gavel down on the agreement to open and sustained acclamation across the plenary hall.

French President Francois Hollande told the assembled delegates: “You’ve done it, reached an ambitious agreement, a binding agreement, a universal agreement. Never will I be able to express more gratitude to a conference. You can be proud to stand before your children and grandchildren.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: “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.”

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said: “One planet, one chance to get it right and we did it in Paris. We have made history together. It is an agreement of conviction. It is an agreement of solidarity with the most vulnerable. It is an agreement of long-term vision, for we have to turn this agreement into an engine of safe growth.”

“Successive generations will, I am sure, mark the 12 December 2015 as a date when cooperation, vision, responsibility, a shared humanity and a care for our world took centre stage,” she said.

“I would like to acknowledge the determination, diplomacy and effort that the Government of France have injected into this remarkable moment and the governments that have supported our shared ambition since COP 17 in Durban, South Africa,” she said.

Agreement Captures Essential Elements to Drive Action Forward

The Paris Agreement and the outcomes of the UN climate conference (COP21) cover all the crucial areas identified as essential for a landmark conclusion:

  • Mitigation – reducing emissions fast enough to achieve the temperature goal
  • A transparency system and global stock-take – accounting for climate action
  • Adaptation – strengthening ability of countries to deal with climate impacts
  • Loss and damage – strengthening ability to recover from climate impacts
  • Support – including finance, for nations to build clean, resilient futures

As well as setting a long-term direction, countries will peak their emissions as soon as possible and continue to submit national climate action plans that detail their future objectives to address climate change.

This builds on the momentum of the unprecedented effort which has so far seen 188 countries contribute climate action plans to the new agreement, which will dramatically slow the pace of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The new agreement also establishes the principle that future national plans will be no less ambitious than existing ones, which means these 188 climate action plans provide a firm floor and foundation for higher ambition.

Countries will submit updated climate plans – called nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – every five years, thereby steadily increasing their ambition in the long-term.  

Climate action will also be taken forward in the period before 2020. Countries will continue to engage in a process on mitigation opportunities and will put added focus on adaptation opportunities. Additionally, they will work to define a clear roadmap on ratcheting up climate finance to USD 100 billion by 2020

This is further underlined by the agreement’s robust transparency and accounting system, which will provide clarity on countries’ implementation efforts, with flexibility for countries’ differing capabilities.

“The Paris Agreement also sends a powerful signal to the many thousands of cities, regions, businesses and citizens across the world already committed to climate action that their vision of a low-carbon, resilient future is now the chosen course for humanity this century,” said Ms Figueres.

Agreement Strengthens Support to Developing Nations

The Paris Agreement underwrites adequate support to developing nations and establishes a global goal to significantly strengthen adaptation to climate change through support and international cooperation.

The already broad and ambitious efforts of developing countries to build their own clean, climate-resilient futures will be supported by scaled-up finance from developed countries and voluntary contributions from other countries.

Governments decided that they will work to define a clear roadmap on ratcheting up climate finance to USD 100 billion by 2020 while also before 2025 setting a new goal on the provision of finance from the USD 100 billion floor.

Ms. Figueres 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. Under the Paris Agreement, the provision of finance from multiple sources will clearly be taken to a new level, which is of critical importance to the most vulnerable.”

International cooperation on climate-safe technologies and building capacity in the developing world to address climate change are also significantly strengthened under the new agreement.

Signing the Paris Agreement

Following the adoption of the Paris Agreement by the COP (Conference of the Parties), it will be deposited at the UN in New York and be opened for one year for signature on 22 April 2016–Mother Earth Day.

The agreement will enter into force after 55 countries that account for at least 55% of global emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification.

Cities and Provinces to Companies and Investors Aligning

Today’s landmark agreement was reached against the backdrop of a remarkable groundswell of climate action by cities and regions, business and civil society.

During the week of events under the Lima to Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) at the COP, the groundswell of action by these stakeholders successfully demonstrated the powerful and irreversible course of existing climate action.

Countries at COP 21 recognised the enormous importance of these initiatives, calling for the continuation and scaling up of these actions which are entered on the UN-hosted NAZCA portal as an essential part in the rapid implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The LPAA and NAZCA have already captured climate actions and pledges covering:

  • Over 7,000 cities, including the most vulnerable to climate change, from over 100 countries with a combined population with one and a quarter billion people and around 32% of global GDP.
  • Sub-national states and regions comprising one fifth of total global land area and combined GDP of $12.5 trillion.
  • Over 5,000 companies from more than 90 countries that together represent the majority of global market capitalisation and over $38 trillion in revenue.
  • Nearly 500 investors with total assets under management of over $25 trillion

Christiana Figueres said: “The recognition of actions by businesses, investors, cities and regions is one of the key outcomes of COP 21. Together with the LPAA, the groundswell of action shows that the world is on an inevitable path toward a properly sustainable, low-carbon world.”

More Details on the Paris Agreement

  • All countries will submit adaptation communications, in which they may detail their adaptation priorities, support needs and plans. Developing countries will receive increased support for adaptation actions and the adequacy of this support will be assessed.
  • The existing Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage will be significantly strengthened.
  • The agreement includes a robust transparency framework for both action and support. The framework will provide clarity on countries’ mitigation and adaptation actions, as well as the provision of support. At the same time, it recognizes that Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States have special circumstances. 
  • The agreement includes a global stocktake starting in 2023 to assess the collective progress towards the goals of the agreement. The stocktake will be done every five years.
  • The agreement includes a compliance mechanism, overseen by a committee of experts that operates in a non-punitive way.

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COP21: UN chief calls on civil society to keep governments accountable on climate commitments

Members of the International Indian Treaty Council ask for indigenous peoples rights to be respected at the UN climate change conference Meeting with civil society groups today at the United Nations climate change conference (COP21), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he counts on grassroots organizations to help keep governments accountable, so they implement what they have committed to in words.

“One of the very valuable lessons that I’ve learned as Secretary-General during the last nine years is that no government, no international organization, can do its work properly without active engagement and support from civil society,” Mr. Ban told members of non-governmental organizations in Paris, alongside Al Gore, the former Vice-President of the United States and Chair of the Climate Reality Project.

On behalf of civil society groups, Mr. Gore thanked the Secretary-General for his tireless leadership to solve the climate crisis: “I’ve had the opportunity to work with you for quite a few years now and not many people know the focus and constant dedication that you have had to this issue,” he said.

The former Vice-President also presented a petition signed by 6.2 million people from around the world, as well as a joint statement on behalf of all civil society groups at COP21. It stated that these millions of individuals are “demanding a strong agreement that will shift the world away from carbon pollution and rapidly towards climate solutions.”

Noting his appreciation for the signatures, the UN chief highlighted that he thinks the world is standing at a very critical moment: “I’m hopeful and I’m reasonably optimistic that we’ll be able to have for the first time in the history of the United Nations a universal and very ambitious climate change agreement which will make our lives healthier and more prosperous.”

Since the beginning of last week, government representative have been negotiating a new agreement with the goal of limiting global temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius. Yesterday, Laurent Fabius, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of COP21, said the intention is to have an adopted agreement by Friday.

“We would not be where we are today here in Paris, with 196 Parties poised to adopt a global climate change agreement, without the leadership and vision of civil society,” Mr. Ban insisted, adding that after Paris is over, their voices will be needed more than ever.

He also underlined civil society’s critical role in driving climate action on the ground: “You have provided examples of new ways of working and innovative new solutions that are creating a greener, more sustainable world. I urge you to continue to demand more from all Governments,” the UN chief stated.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Director of Avaaz, a global web movement, told Mr. Ban she was at COP21 representing over three million people who are calling for 100 per cent clean energy by 2050.

“That ambitious goal is for them the metric of success, but they’re watching for something else – this conference can be a renewed level of hope in the UN process and the ability of governments to come together and cooperate,” said Emma Ruby- Sachs. “It’s greater than climate. This is about how we solve global problems.”

Holding back tears, Ms. Sachs also told the Secretary-General that she is expecting her first child in a couple of months, and she wants the next generation to feel hopeful about their planet.