17 December 2015
At COP21 in Paris earlier this month, after weeks of intense negotiations, we saw the first ever global climate change deal signed between 196 countries.
The deal attempts to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2.0C and commits all countries to cut carbon emissions. The agreement is partly legally binding and partly voluntary.
The 1997 Kyoto Protocol which preceded this deal set emission cutting targets for a handful of developed countries. However the USA pulled out and others failed to comply.
This historic deal is an important step in the right direction however scientists say that this Paris accord must be stepped up if it is to have any chance of curbing dangerous climate change.
Key elements of the deal include:
· Keeping global temperatures below 2.0C
- Limiting the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by humans to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans absorb naturally
· Reviewing each country's contribution to cutting emissions every five years
· Rich countries helping poorer countries by providing "climate finance" to adapt to climate change
Some experts have lauded this deal as "remarkable" saying it's a victory for the most vulnerable countries, the small islands, the least developed countries and all those with the most to lose.
While the deal goes a long way to address climate change we still have a journey and the deal is by no means perfect with other experts expressing some frustration saying the deal won't dig us out of the hole but makes the sides less steep. Tearfund says it doesn't give us everything we need to keep global temperatures down or provide all the financial support the poorest nations need but it does give us a strong foundation we can build on.
Image credit- 'COP21' under CC license