Final draft of climate deal formally accepted in Paris


By John D. Sutter and Joshua Berlinger, CNN Updated 2215 GMT (0615 HKT) December 12, 2015 | Video Source: CNN

Paris (CNN) After years of buildup and weeks of negotiations, world leaders accepted the final draft of an ambitious, global climate change agreement Saturday in Paris.

Though hailed as a milestone in the battle to keep Earth hospitable to human life, the plan is short on specifics. It doesn’t say how much each country must reduce greenhouse gas emissions or how nations will be punished if they violate the agreement.

The accord sets a goal of limiting average warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial temperatures — and of striving for a limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) if possible.

“We have set a course here,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said. “The world has come together around an agreement that will empower us to chart a new path for our planet. A smart and responsible path. A sustainable path.”

President Obama is set to speak about the agreement at 5:30 p.m. ET Saturday.

Some major points not addressed

The agreement doesn’t mandate exactly how much each country must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Rather, it sets up a bottom-up system in which each country sets its own goal — which the agreement calls a “nationally determined contribution” — and then must explain how it plans to reach that objective.

Those pledges must be increased over time, and starting in 2018 each country will have to submit new plans every five years.

Many countries actually submitted their new plans before climate change conference, known as COP21, started last month — but those pledges aren’t enough to keep warming below the 2-degree target. But the participants’ hope is that over time, countries will aim for more ambitious goals and ratchet up their commitments.

Another sticking point has been coming up with a way to punish nations that don’t do their part, but observers say that was never really on the table.

Instead, the agreement calls for the creation of a committee of experts to “facilitate implementation” and “promote compliance” with the agreement, but it won’t have the power to punish violators.

‘This didn’t save the planet’

Another issue, according to observers, was whether there would be compensation is paid to countries that will see irreparable damage from climate change but have done almost nothing to cause it.

The agreement calls for developed countries to raise at least $100 billion annually in order to assist developing countries. Members of the scientific and environmental activist communities responded with varying degrees of optimism.

“This didn’t save the planet,” Bill McKibben, the co-founder of, said of the agreement. “But it may have saved the chance of saving the planet.”

Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute anticipated a “historic agreement that marks a turning point in the climate crisis.”

What happens next?

Even though the text has been agreed upon, there’s still much more that needs to be done before the agreement goes into effect.

The agreement was adopted by “consensus” during the meeting of government ministers. That doesn’t necessarily mean all 196 parties approved it; French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who served as the president of the conference, had the authority to decide if a consensus had been reached.

Individual countries now must individually ratify or approve the agreement in their respective countries.

And the agreement won’t enter into force until 55 countries have ratified it. Those nations must account for 55{4d24daa5a359aa22e51c71c531e935ff229d31c7c5eb0da4885e362fa152ead6} of total global greenhouse gas emissions.

That means if the world’s biggest polluters don’t authorize the agreement, enacting it could prove challenging.

China and the United States, respectively, account for about 24{4d24daa5a359aa22e51c71c531e935ff229d31c7c5eb0da4885e362fa152ead6} and 14{4d24daa5a359aa22e51c71c531e935ff229d31c7c5eb0da4885e362fa152ead6} of total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Resources Institute.

The United States has backed off climate change votes in the past.

The Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions was adopted in 1997. The Clinton administration signed the agreement but, fearing defeat, never submitted it to the Senate for ratification.

In China, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress is in charge of approving treaties.

The agreement calls for a signature ceremony in April 2016, and requests that the U.N. Secretary-General keep the agreement open for signing until April 2017.

Fabius released the draft worked out by negotiators Saturday morning. Later in the day, world leaders or their representatives approved it. A crowd erupted in applause once the agreement’s adoption was announced.

‘We need all hands on deck’

World leaders praised passage of the agreement.

“A month ago tomorrow, Paris was the victim of the deadliest terror attack in Europe for more than a decade,” British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote in a Facebook post. “Today, it has played host to one of the most positive global steps in history.”

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon hailed the draft that was put together at the 21st Conference of Parties, or COP21.

“We must protect the planet that sustains us,” Ban said. “For that we need all hands on deck.”

In the streets of Paris, outside the conference, protesters demanded action. #ParisAgreement was trending on Twitter.

“Nous sommes la nature qui se défend!” read one tweet, with a photo of one person dressed as a polar bear and another dressed as a penguin. “We are nature that defends itself.”

Some demonstrators felt differently — they called the agreement insufficient and chanted “it’s a crime against humanity.”

“We have a 1.5-degree wall to climb, but the ladder isn’t tall enough,” Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace said at a press conference. He did call the agreement a “new imperative” and positive step.

2 degrees Celsius threshold

Capping the increase in global average temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius was organizers’ key goal going into the COP21. That level of warming is measured as the average temperature increase since the Industrial Revolution.

Failure to set a cap could result in superdroughts, deadlier heat waves, mass extinctions of plants and animals, megafloods and rising seas that could wipe some island countries off the map.

Scientists and policy experts say hitting the 2 degrees Celsius threshold would require the world to move off fossil fuels between about 2050 and the end of the century.

To reach the more ambitious 1.5 degrees Celsius goal, some researchers say the world will need to reach zero net carbon emissions sometime between about 2030 and 2050.

CNN’s Don Melvin, Ralph Ellis and Greg Botelho contributed to this report.

Negotiation Updates COP 21/CMP 11


CdP podium

This section provides regular updates on developments following the closure of the ADP, SBI and SBSTA, including in relation to items that have been transferred to the COP/CMP, as well as consultations led by Heads of Delegation, Presidency informal stock-taking meetings and other significant developments in the second part of the negotiations.


French version:

Paris climate talks: delegates reach agreement on final draft text


After talks again stretched through the night, François Hollande and Ban Ki-moon are to unveil document on limiting climate change for formal adoption

Ban Ki-moon and John Kerry at the Paris climate talks.

Ban Ki-moon and John Kerry at the Paris climate talks. Photograph: J Raa/Pacific Press/Barcroft

, , and in Paris

Negotiators in Paris are to present their final draft text on Saturday morning for a deal on limiting climate change after working through Friday night to thrash out remaining details.

The French president, François Hollande, is due to join Ban Ki-moon at the landmark summit at 11.30am local time, when the text is expected to be published. The draft is predicted to be officially adopted in the afternoon.

Sources said the final text was only settled on at 6.45am after negotiators and ministers worked through Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights at Le Bourget in north-east Paris.

Laurent Fabius – the French foreign minister who has marshalled the text through its final stages as president of the talks – said on Thursday night: “All the conditions are ripe for a universal and ambitious agreement.

“We will never find a momentum as favourable as in Paris, but now the responsibility lies with ministers, who tomorrow [Saturday] will make their choice. I will present them a text that will be the most ambitious and balanced as possible.”

Earlier, Barack Obama had phoned the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, in a last-ditch effort to thrash out a climate change agreement to curb carbon emissions beyond 2020, when current commitments run out.

As the negotiations ran into overtime – something that has happened at virtually every such meeting of the last 20 years – Fabius on Friday called for a cooling-off period to allow more high level lobbying behind closed doors. He put off planned public plenary sessions, which risk being volatile, and gave the floor over to closed meetings in a last push for an agreement.

Peaceful protests are planned by climate activists across Paris. Civil society groups will hand out thousands of red tulips to represent red lines they say should not be crossed, and hold a rally under the Eiffel Tower if and when a deal is reached.

Even with Obama’s efforts to call in political favours with the Chinese president, sharp divisions remained on Friday between the US, India and China.

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, said the talks were the most complicated and difficult negotiations he had ever been involved in.

“I have been attending many difficult multilateral negotiations, but by any standard, this negotiation is most complicated, most difficult, but most important for humanity,” Ban told reporters.

Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, hoping for ambitious and transparent climate agreement

The White House said Obama telephoned Xi to try and clinch a deal, following on from phone calls earlier in the week with the Indian, French, and Brazilian leaders.

Meanwhile, John Kerry, the US secretary of state, shuttled between delegations. “I think some of us have been working quietly behind the scenes to work out compromises ahead of time on some of those issues,” he told reporters. “And so tomorrow will be really a reflection of many of those compromises.”

The extraordinary expense of political capital reflects the extent to which Obama is invested in achieving a credible climate deal at Paris – as well as the immense difficulties of bringing the deal to a close. The US and China last year reached an historic agreement to work jointly to cut emissions.

But the Chinese leadership pushed back on Friday on the framing of the main issue of the agreement: how to get off fossil fuels. Liu Jianmin, the deputy foreign minister, complained there was no clear definition of “greenhouse gas emissions neutrality” in the latest draft text.

China and India have been accused by some negotiators of trying to water down the long term ambition of the draft climate deal, but its negotiators argued rich countries were trying to railroad them into a deal.

“The developed world is not showing flexibility,” said Prakash Javadekar, India’s environment minister.

Liu also dismissed the so-called “coalition of ambition” that has emerged at the Paris talks as a “performance”.

“We heard of this so-called ambitious coalition only since a few days ago, of course it has had a high in profile in the media, but we haven’t seen they have really acted for ambitious emissions commitments, so this is kind of performance by some members,” he said at a press conference.

On Friday, Brazil bolted from the bloc of powerful developing countries to endorse the coalition, which had been cobbled together earlier this year by the US, Europe and some low-lying states and African countries, to try to break down the old divisions that have stood in the way of an agreement.

“If you want to tackle climate change you need ambition and political will,” Izabella Teixeira, Brazil’s environment minister, said in a statement read out at a press conference.

As of Friday evening the agreement in the works recognised a more aspirational target of 1.5C for limiting temperature rise – which scientists say would offer a better chance of survival to low-lying and coastal states – as well as the internationally agreed 2C target. The latest draft also incorporates a long-term goal of decarbonisation, albeit without firm dates or targets, a five-year cycle for reviewing emissions cuts, and clear rules on transparency.

But for poor countries there was deep disappointment that the draft dropped any mention of climate or gender justice. There was also a backlash against Saudi Arabia, which leads important economic and regional blocs, and was accused of blocking a higher 1.5C target. “When Saudi Arabia talks about adaptation, I can not speak,” said Jahangir Hasan Masum, executive director of the Coastal Development Partnership, an NGO in Bangladesh working in low-lying areas vulnerable to cyclones. “I feel really disgusted talking about them because they are not serious for the planet. They are serious for their oil business and money and keeping their monarchy.”

Brazil’s support for the new US-sponsored alliance led to a sense of growing isolation around China and India, which had not signed on to the high ambition coalition, and expressed ambivalence about the 1.5C target.

But there remained much to play for between Friday night and Saturday. Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru’s environment minister who presided over last year’s climate talks and is assisting Fabius, said countries had yet to find a formula for reconciling the core question of how industrialised countries and the rising economies should divide responsibilities for dealing with climate change. But he insisted talks – though moving slowly – were still headed in the right direction.

“The idea to postpone for some hours and not close on Friday has not been the result of a crisis,” he said. “We are used to have to postpone because of a crisis. In Lima, for example, we had a crisis, but today I think Fabius is giving people enough space to discuss all these issues.”


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