Eiffel Tower, Paris, France, July 2014. © J. Ashley Nixon
The usual overrun on final negotiations at the UN Climate Summit in Paris left us waiting a little longer to see what would become of the Final Draft released in the early hours of Saturday morning. It was worth it. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius who has been the chief overseer of the negotiations, looked up from his prepared speech. “I see that the reaction is positive, I see no objections”. And with the strike of an appropriately green painted gavel he declared “The Paris Agreement is adopted”.
The more fulsomely named Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) comes with some legally binding parts and some voluntary expectations. It welcomes the many Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs received from many countries (the Parties to the Convention) and encourages greater levels of ambition than we have seen before.
Significantly, this is an Agreement across all countries, which aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change in the context of sustainable development. In Annex 2, the Agreement goes on to say this is to be achieved by “holding the increase in global average temperature to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit this temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius” This more ambitious goal would “significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.
The leaders of 196 countries have had their say. They have stepped up and found a way to articulate where we need to go. This is a milestone on the pathway towards a low carbon future. Our path is now open.
The full text of the Paris Agreement can be found here.