A historic global agreement against climate change, uniting rich and developing countries for the first time in that fight, was approved yesterday by 195 countries at an emotional conference in Paris.
Six years after the failed Copenhagen climate conference, the international community demonstrated that it became aware of a problem that threatens life on the planet.
"I look around the room," said French Chancellor Laurent Fabius quickly. "I hear no objections: the Paris Agreement on the climate is approved," he added nervously, before hitting a hammer, as tradition dictates. Cheers and applause erupted in the crowd, and many faces reflected years of diplomatic effort.
The Paris Agreement will replace the current Kyoto Protocol from 2020 and lays the foundation for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and, more importantly, for starting to dream of a world without fossil fuels.
Two weeks of negotiations, masterfully conducted by French diplomacy, led to a result that poses enormous challenges for the energy sector, but at the same time great opportunities for those who bet on clean energy.
More than 1.5º, less than 2º
The 31-page text in English (40 in Spanish) links the fate of the great greenhouse gas emitting powers, such as the United States and China, to that of the small Pacific islands threatened by rising levels of greenhouse gases. oceans.
The industrialized countries, historically responsible for the problem, will have to help the developing countries financially.
Emerging powers that so wish may also join in, but on a voluntary basis, as China has already begun to do so.
All countries commit to mutually monitor their emission reduction plans (INDCs), with five-year reviews starting in 2023.
The objective is that these emissions, which are mainly responsible for global warming to record levels, stop increasing "as soon as possible" and then reduce "rapidly", although without setting percentages or deadlines, as the most determined countries wanted.
For the second half of the century, an even more ambitious goal remains: to achieve a total balance between greenhouse gas emissions and actions to counter them.
The text proposes to limit the increase in the temperature of the planet “well below 2 ºC with respect to pre-industrial levels”, and “to continue efforts to limit the increase in temperature to 1.5 ºC”. This satisfies both the emerging countries, which do not want to compromise their economic development, and the countries most vulnerable to meteorological disasters.
Developing countries will receive $ 100 billion “at least” from 2020, a figure that would be revised “at the latest” in 2025.
That was a demand that originated in the failed Copenhagen conference, and that unites all developing countries without exception. But that key part is outside the "hard core" of the text, and is located in the chapter of decisions, to avoid, among others, the obstacles of the US Congress, in the hands of the Republicans.
The great stumbling block in recent years has been the demand from rich countries that the emerging powers that pollute the most also contribute. China is the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gases, the United States the second, the European Union the third, and India the fourth.
The text specifies that developed countries “shall provide” the aid to their developing partners, and encourages “other parties to provide or continue to provide such support on a voluntary basis”. Those 100,000 million are "a valuable starting point, but it is still less than 8% of the world's annual military spending", recalled a scientist, Ilan Kelman, of University College London.
The text was approved by consensus, not without last minute diplomatic struggles.
Nicaragua was the dissonant note. "Nicaragua does not follow the consensus," said its negotiator, Paul Oquist, who described the procedure that led to the approval of the agreement as "undemocratic".
But everyone else, even other tough negotiators like Venezuela, showed their satisfaction with a success that their delegate Claudia Salerno called "revolutionary." To demonstrate this, Venezuela announced that its country was presenting its INDC, which it was keeping in reserve until the definition of the conference.
With this addition, there are already 187 countries that commit to reducing their emissions, which represents more than 95% of the planet's greenhouse gases.
Those INDCs were one of the highlights of the preparation of this conference, a background work of French diplomacy.
The agreement "is a tremendous victory," said the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, while the Brazilian negotiator, Izabella Teixeira, highlighted "the balanced, ambitious and long-lasting agreement that the world expected."
"Today the human race has united in a common cause, but what happens after this conference is what really matters," warned however, the environmental organization Greenpeace.
In the streets of Paris, thousands of environmentalists marched to show that they will not lower their guard.
“I'm here to show that even without much hope at COP21, we are going to continue fighting,” said 69-year-old Anne-Marie.
"Opportunity to save the planet"
US President Barack Obama said the climate agreement reached in Paris yesterday offers "the best opportunity to save the planet that we have."
In a statement delivered from the Cabinet Room of the Washington White House, Obama said that "we can have more confidence that the planet will be in a better state for the next generation," and that the agreement shows that the world has the will and the ability to take on "this challenge."
The president indicated that no nation could solve the climate problem on its own, and warned that, even if all the goals are met, the world is only on the way to reducing the level of carbon in the atmosphere.
He also considered that the Paris agreement establishes a lasting framework that the world needs to confront the problem.EcoPortal.net