Paris COP21 ushers in global transition
In a moment described as historic by many commentators, the world’s governments finalized a global agreement in Paris on 12 December that lays the foundations for effective long-term efforts to fight climate change. The agreement is the first ever to commit all countries to cut emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Particularly significant are the following commitments: to keep global temperature increases well below 2°C and endeavour to limit them to 1.5°C; to review each country’s contribution to emission cuts every five years – with a global stock-taking in 2018 – to help scale up efforts to reduce emissions; and to seek a balance between emissions and absorption by forests and oceans by the second half of the century. On financing the costs of fighting climate change in developing countries and those most vulnerable to its impacts, countries affirmed the target of leveraging US$100 billion annually by 2020, with increased funding in future years.
Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s climate and energy team, said: “We are seeing the start of a global transition towards renewable energy”. She added: “The talks and surrounding commitments send a strong signal to everyone – the fossil fuel era is coming to an end. As climate impacts worsen around the world, we need to seize on the current momentum and usher in a new era of cooperative action from all countries and all levels of society.”