After difficult two week-long COP21 negotiations, representatives of 195 countries of the world reached a unanimous landmark climate change accord in Paris. The historical climate deal for the first time made all the nations of the world to commit to cut greenhouse gas emissions to help reduce disastrous global warming effects. The deal is partly legally binding (like submitting a carbon emission reduction target and the regular review of the goal) and partly voluntary (such as the targets for reducing emission targets set by nations will not be binding under the Paris 2015 agreed accord) and it will come into being in 2020.
The Paris 2015 deal attempts to limit global atmospheric temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius and the measures adopted in the agreement included provisions for reviewing progress every five years, and for $100 billion dollars a year in climate finance for developing countries. As per the agreement, countries will now be legally required to reconvene every five years with updated plans to tighten their emission cuts starting from 2020.The Paris 2015 agreement will require developed countries to raise finance worth $100 billion per year from 2020 to help developing nations in both mitigation and adaptation activities for building a low emission future, while other countries to provide funding for the cause voluntarily.
The international scientific advisory body on climate, the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) had been clearly pushing for the COP21 accord to limit global atmospheric temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius not only for saving the environment but also to protect sustainable development. The success of COP21 has created an opportunity to develop a framework for accelerated technological innovations and their deployment.
There were three major challenges to finalise the Paris Climate deal 2015: reaching an agreement on emission reductions; adaptation to the impacts of climate change (present and future) and financing for the actions required for emission reductions. The final deal reached in COP21 has not made everybody happy but the commitment of nations to transform the global economy to a new low-carbon future will receive a boost from the outcome of COP21. Businesses have a vital role to play in the fight against climate change. Many companies and businesses are affected by climate change and are compelled to take adaptation actions. Businesses will also provide much of the financing to enable adoption of new technologies as well as innovation to develop new products for improving present and future production processes towards reducing energy consumption and improving efficiency.
US President Barack Obama, who presented himself in the COP21 summit in Paris few days back as the representative of the biggest economy and the second largest polluting country of the world, expressed his satisfaction after the Paris Climate agreement saying, 'the agreement sends a powerful signal that the world is fully committed to a low-carbon future' and 'we have shown that the world has both the will and the ability to take the challenge.' Five years back, such a deal was politically impossible and the Copenhagen climate summit failed as the participating countries could not unite around the deal.
China, the largest polluter and the second largest economy of the world, hailed the Paris climate deal. Chinese climate change negotiator Xie Zhenhua said that the agreement is not perfect, 'and there are some areas in need of improvement, but this does not prevent us from marching forward with the historic step'. He called the deal 'fair, just, comprehensive and balanced, highly ambitious, enduring and effective'.
Giza Gaspar Martins, chairman of the group representing some of the world's poorest countries, said 'it is the best outcome we could have hoped for, not just for the Least Developed Countries, but for all citizens of the world'.
India, one of the major polluters as well as an emerging economy of the world, is also happy as its concerns have been taken care of in the climate deal. Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javedkar thinks that the deal is a balanced one to take forward the world.
To achieve the targets for reducing carbon emission to limit global warming within 2 degrees Celsius and to endeavour to keep it within 1.5 degrees, the world needs a huge cut on fossil fuel use. And to reduce carbon emissions, nations will be required to rely more on renewable energy and enhance energy efficiency significantly. Developing nations need both financial and technological assistance from rich countries to switch over to low-carbon development. Developing countries want more funding supports and they want it in the form of grants rather than loans. The rich nations have a key question related to transparency, i.e. the method of measuring, reporting and verifying that countries are doing what they are committed to do. Also, questions should be answered how low-emission technology processes should be disseminated to aid emission reductions, and how this should be financed. While the question of financing and technology is asked for developing greener and sustainable world, the issue of institution building and capacity development for developing nations is also to be addressed.