HISTORIC CLIMATE ACCORD REACHED IN PARIS

12/21/2015

On December 12, 195 countries reached a historic deal to address the global challenge of climate change. The accord was reached after nearly two weeks of debate and years of preparation. Ahead of the Paris talks, 186 countries submitted plans to cut carbon emissions through either 2025 or 2030. The agreement commits countries to limit greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of not surpassing a 2-degree rise in global temperature, and an aspirational goal of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5C. Most language in the agreement is voluntary and not legally binding; a legally binding agreement would have required the United States to receive ratification from the Senate. Binding aspects of the agreement include a requirement that all signatories submit an emissions reduction target, and the accord requires regular review of those targets, though the targets themselves are not binding. In the non-binding language, $100 billion a year is to be submitted in climate finance for developing countries by 2020. Some expressed concern that the funds allocated to help poorer countries were not a binding aspect of the agreement and that the agreement was therefore biased in favor of wealthier countries. The current committments submitted would limit global temperature rise to 2.7C, which means that the agreement’s requirements for countries to ratchet up their pledges and reassess commitments is crucial to the goal of keeping global temperature rise to 1.5-2C. For the full story, see http://news.mongabay.com/2015/12/world-reaches-historic-climate-agreement-in-paris/, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/world/europe/climate-change-accord-paris.html?_r=0, http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-35084374 and http://www.smh.com.au/environment/un-climate-conference/paris-un-climate-conference-2015-countries-strike-grand-bargain-to-tackle-climate-change-20151212-glm7lf.html