196 countries approved historic climate change accord stop global warming

196 countries approved historic climate change accord to stop global warming

12:07 PM, 14th December 2015
196 countries approved historic climate change accord to stop global warming
French president Francois Hollande (R), French foreign minister and president of the COP21 Laurent Fabius (2nd R), United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres and United Nations secretary-general Ban ki-Moon hold their hands up after the final conference at the COP21. © AP

PARIS, FRANCE: Delegates from 196 nations approved a historic climate deal that aims to transform fossil fuel-driven economies within decades and reduce global warming.

It will formally be inked in New York on 22 April 2016, when the UN secretary general invites all world leaders for a high-level signature ceremony.

The deal must now be ratified by governments of at least 55 countries representing 55 percent of global emissions and will take effect in 2020.

India, seen as a tough nation to get on board, is happy with the deal. French president Francois Hollande even spoke to PM Modi on phone before the deal was approved and is learned to have appreciated India's role in the deal.

"After the first glance of the text, we are happy that it takes care of concerns of India. The differentiation of responsibilities in fighting climate change, between developed and developing countries and the stress on sustainable development in the Paris agreement was an ‘important achievement’ for India,” said Prakash Javadekar, union environment minister of India.

The differentiation is maintained across all pillars of actions mentioned in the draft mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology transfer, capacity building, and transparency.

In the pact, the countries commit to limiting the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100. Some scientists who had criticised earlier drafts praised the agreement for including language that essentially means the world will have to all but stop polluting with greenhouse gases by 2070 to reach the 2 degree goal, or by 2050 to reach the 1.5 degree goal.

Though climate finance money to be given by rich nations to developing countries for adaptation and mitigation efforts) has also been taken care of, the move to put it in the decision text is a bit of a concern as the quantum of contribution will not be legally binding on rich nations.

The developed countries will provide $100 billion by 2020 and potentially scale it up later, but this point is not there in the agreement (legally binding) part of the text. Still, it stipulates that the $100 billion will be a floor and not the ceiling as the new quantified target will need to be set up by 2025.

“The differentiation has been maintained by stating that developed countries will provide support to developing countries for both mitigation and adaptation. This is the only place where equity has been operationalised. But we know that the promise of finances has always been illusionary. So, whereas the previous draft mentioned $100 billion to be made available, it has now been removed in the current draft agreement,” said Sunita Narain, chief of the Delhi-based think tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

She, however, welcomed the fact that the draft agreement is under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and will be guided by its principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) the point very crucial for all developing countries ever since they had been working on the draft.

The shift in finance clause, however, brought rich countries on board. It is learnt the US-led umbrella group of developed countries and EU nations are fully agreed to the text. Though they did not want differentiation to be maintained on all pillars of the UN Convention, they moved a bit when developing countries sought to compromise on the clause of finance and the issue of loss and damage financialhelp extended to vulnerable countries hit by disasters).

The agreement put loss and damage in a separate article but it doesn't provide basis for compensation or liability. These kinds of compromises are there in the agreement for both rich bloc and developing countries.

© Times of India News

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