Paris Agreement sealed to stop global warming
Le Bourget, December 13
Cheering envoys from 195 nations approved yesterday a historic accord in Paris to stop global warming, offering hope that humanity can avert catastrophic climate change and usher in an energy revolution.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius ended nearly a fortnight of gruelling UN negotiations with the bang of a gavel, marking consensus among the ministers, who stood for several minutes to clap and shout their joy, with some shedding tears of relief. “I see the room, I see the reaction is positive, I hear no objection.
Turning to a little green hammer with which he formally gave life to the arduously crafted pact, he quipped: “It may be a small gavel but it can do big things.”
The post-2020 Paris Agreement ends decades-long rows between rich and poor nations over how to carry out what will be a multi-trillion-dollar campaign to cap global warming and cope with the impacts of a shifting climate.
With 2015 forecast to be the hottest year on record, world leaders and scientists had said the accord was vital for capping rising temperatures and averting the most calamitous impacts from climate change.
Without urgent action, they warned, mankind faced increasingly severe droughts, floods and storms, and rising seas that would engulf islands and coastal areas populated by hundreds of millions of people.
“It is a victory for all of the planet and for future generations,” US Secretary of State John Kerry told his fellow envoys in Le Bourget on the northern outskirts of Paris.
The crux of the fight entails slashing or eliminating the use of coal, oil and gas for energy, which has largely powered prosperity since the Industrial Revolution began in the 1700s.
The burning of those fossil fuels releases invisible greenhouse gases, which cause the planet to warm and disrupt Earth’s delicate climate system.
Ending the vicious circle requires a switch to cleaner sources, such as solar and wind, and improving energy efficiency.
Some nations are also aggressively pursuing nuclear power, which does not emit greenhouse gases.
The Paris accord sets a target of limiting warming of the planet to “well below” 2.0 degrees Celsius compared with the Industrial Revolution, while aiming for an even more ambitious goal of 1.5C.
To do so, emissions of greenhouse gases will need to peak “as soon as possible”, followed by rapid reductions, the agreement states.
The world has already warmed by almost 1C, which has caused major problems in dry developing countries, according to scientists.
Developing nations had insisted rich countries must shoulder the lion’s share of responsibility for tackling climate change as they emitted most of the greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution.
The United States and other rich nations countered that emerging giants must also do more, arguing developing countries now account for most of current emissions and thus will be largely responsible for future warming.
On the crucial financing issue, developed countries agreed to muster at least $100 billion a year from 2020 to help developing nations.
However, following US objections, it was not included in the legally-binding section of the deal.