Saturday, 12 December 2015

The Paris, COP 21, Climate Change Policy Deal

The news's just flowing out of Paris that a global deal on climate change policy has been struck. The draft agreement (as it is called), can be found here. As so many agreements at this level it is virtually unreadable for a lay person, and the first 19 pages are only about the background, earlier deals and formal stuff about adoption, how to sign up, etc.

The real stuff – the actual deal – starts in the so-called Annex, on page 20, and on page 21, in article 2, we find the nitty-gritty:

Article 2
1. This Agreement, in enhancing the implementation of the Convention, including its objective, aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty, including by: 
(a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;
(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production;
(c) Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development. 
2. This Agreement will be implemented to reflect equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.
The rest is detail. Not unimportant, as it stresses, e.g., the strong responsibility of rich countries to present the main bankrolling regarding mitigation, adaption, compensation,  technology transfer, etc. But article 2 is what sets the level of political ambition: the point of all the rest. The fact that the agreement has now clearly stood against all attempts to abandon the 2°C target for a higher one, has now been not only been scrapped, but reversed to aim for a lower level is very good news for anyone who has inspected the dire global consequences in all areas of life and society of already a 2°C rise of the global temperature.