COP21: Global Climate Change Agreement

After nearly two weeks of thorough negotiations, history was made in Paris on the 12th of December with a legally binding climate deal finalised.

The agreement means that world leaders have agreed to adopt a steady final deal which includes a legally binding agreement between the parties involved to keep global warming down to ‘well below 2°C’.

The COP21 President Laurent Fabius described the document as ‘differentiated, balanced, durable and legally-binding’, emphasis that the document enforces the need to keep warming well below 2°C with continuous pursuing efforts to keep warming below 1.5°C.

To achieve this target, it has been stated that all parties involved in the summit must ‘aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognising that peaking will take longer for developing country parties’.

With regards to climate action, countries who have pledged must communicate a national determined contribution to the reduction of global emissions every five years. There will also be a global stocktake put into place which will happen in 2023.

More economically developed countries have been instructed to ‘take the lead’ by undertaking economy wide absolute emission whilst countries still in development must be ‘enhancing their mitigation efforts’. They have been encouraged to move over time towards an economy wide emission decline or limitation target.

It has been recognised in the final draft that climate change represents an urgent threat to human societies and without intervention could be irreversible. The declaration that the planet requires the widest possible cooperation by all countries is strongly enforced throughout. It was further addressed that ‘a deeper reduction in global emissions will be required in order to achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention and emphasising the need for urgency in addressing climate change’.

There will also be a $100bn a year price floor to support developing nations in their climate change mitigation efforts, however the article vitally states that this ‘does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation for loss and damage’.

Despite the major success of the climate deal, there are elements of the final draft that have not been accounted for. To start, there has been no clear timescale given for when fossil fuels will begin to be phased out, which had been accounted for in previous drafts. Another area not mentioned was that of the shipping and aviation industries. It has been found that they are responsible for around 5% of global emissions but this figure is growing rapidly.

In addition to this, previous drafts of the text mentioned that parties will work together toward reaching greenhouse gas emission neutrality in the second half of the century, however the final text does not include this.

President Fabius has hailed the ‘historic’ meeting on the accomplishment of the final declaration which included ‘the principle elements that we thought would be impossible to achieve’. It has been counted that over 180 countries submitted pledges for action and over 150 world leaders participated in the opening of the summit as well as announced a range of initiatives they will partake in.


Final Paris Agreement