Historic climate agreement reflects real world change, protects vulnerable people

Intro

195 countries reached across traditional divides today to unite behind the greatest moral challenge of our time and seal the deal on a historic climate accord. The Paris Agreement is an inclusive, ambitious, science-based deal that recognises the urgency and scale of action required to address climate change, and hastens the transition from dirty to clean energy that is well underway. The Paris Agreement heralds the end of the fossil fuel era, giving the world the tools to drive emissions to net zero, to protect the world’s poor and vulnerable, and to address the desperate pollution situation in India and China. People have been peacefully marching on the street for years, while diverse groups like faith, health, parents, unionists, Indigenous peoples, cities, businesses and investors among others have long called for climate action. Civil society will continue to put pressure on leaders – starting today and ramping up in the next few months – to ensure real world change continues to accelerate.  In the spirit of this global response to the global climate crisis, the Paris agreement puts forth a new imperative to make a real and lasting difference.

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Key Points

  • In a historic moment, all the world’s countries came together to signal that it’s game over for fossil fuels. Faced with the fundamental shift already taking place in the world’s economy and no longer able to ignore the growing calls for climate action, 195 governments have, today, used their collective strength to protect the public and forge a legally binding agreement tackle the growing threat of climate change. This includes a commitment to a long-term goal to bring emissions down to zero and a regular review of national commitments every five years to get us there.
  • By supporting such an ambitious deal, governments have shown unity with the world’s most vulnerable. As the impacts of climate change hit home in communities around the world, from Chennai to the Philippines to the UK, the voice of vulnerable communities has been heard in Paris like never before, and the new agreement recognises their needs and concerns. It keeps the door open to limiting warming to 1.5DegC, while setting a bar for increasing support for the most vulnerable people, including scaling up finance.  
  • For world leaders, the hard work begins now. While Paris marks the beginning of the new era for climate action, there is far more to be done by governments to further accelerate the transition to a 100 per cent renewable future and ensure that communities can adapt and are protected from climate impacts. All eyes are now on nations to use the commitments enshrined in the Paris agreement to urgently speed up the ongoing energy transition at a national level, and come back to the table and increase their climate commitments as soon as possible.
  • A Paris agreement is not the end point, but rather a tipping point for the climate movement. Everyone has is at risk from a warming planet, and scaling up action early will bring benefits for us all. As the gavel goes down on the UN climate talks, people from all walks of life are already pushing harder to keep fossil fuels in the ground – choosing instead a just transition to a future powered by renewables. As the transition gets stronger and faster in a post-Paris world, citizens around the world will continue to hold governments and corporations accountable as they work to make the spirit of the agreement part of the fibre of life.

Background

The activists, observers, analysts, reporters and negotiators heading home from the climate summit in Paris this weekend have been witness to an historic moment for the planet and for its peoples. Although the final agreement text does not fully reflect the level of ambition called for by civil society and many of the participating nations, it is the first time that so many countries have signed onto a binding deal to limit climate change and committed to reducing their carbon emissions. For that reason alone, the outcome in the French capital will go down in the history books.

The final text consists of two parts: a binding ‘agreement’ and a ‘decision’.  Observers recognised the historic nature of the agreement and the fact that it marked a milestone on the path to a fully renewable energy future, but commented that civil society was still far ahead of governments, and that leaders – once they had signed the agreement – would still need to deliver on it.  

– Immediate ambition and long-term goal: The text says countries will seek to keep temperature rises to “well below” 2DegC above pre-industrial levels, beyond which dangerous climate change is expected. It also includes a reference to a tougher limit, saying countries will “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5DegC”, which is necessary to the very survival of the most vulnerable nations.  Countries will aim to peak climate change-causing emissions “as soon as possible’, and “in accordance with best available science, so as to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, on the basis of equity, and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty”. In other words, this is a long-term target of net zero emissions by the end of the century (which leaves the door open for techniques such as carbon capture), and while the inclusion of such a target will have a real impact on emissions, it is considerably less ambitious than the target of full decarbonisation by 2050 that many support.

Differentiation: The new deal stresses developed countries “should” take the lead on greenhouse gas cuts, but also encourages all countries to adopt tougher economy-wide emission cuts “over time”, in light of their differing national circumstances. The text on differentiation has been welcomed as avoiding a richer versus poorer divide, while recognising that countries are in very different positions.

– Ambition mechanism: The text refers to a five-year cycle for reviewing and potentially raising the level of pledges countries have made to tackle climate change up to 2030, which are currently not enough to put the world on a path to meet the 2C target, let alone the tougher 1.5DegC goal. The non-binding ‘decision’ element of the agreement says there should be stocktake of collective emissions reduction efforts in 2019, to see if they are in line with the long-term ‘greenhouse gas neutrality’ target.

The inclusion of an ambition mechanism despite some nations’ objections is a positive result for forward-looking countries, featuring stronger legal language to help stay under a 2DegC rise. It also sets the first review date for 2019, a year later than some observers were calling for.

– Financial support and adaptation – On finance, the text stipulates US$100 billion should be a “floor” of commitments from developed nations, but underlines the need for other emerging economies to contribute “on a voluntary, complementary basis”. It talks of finding “new sources of finance” , refers to achieving a balance between adaptation and mitigation finance, and recognises that the great the impacts of climate change, the higher the risks of exceeding adaptation limits.

One of the most thorny issues in the negotiations has been resolved by mentioning finance from both developed and emerging economies, but making emerging economies’ contributions voluntary. While it is addressed in the decision text, the exclusion of finance from the core agreement, including an adaptation finance target will disappoint some observers, who stressed that it was the best way of ensuring the nations hardest hit by climate change were helped to adjust.

– Loss and damage – There is no mention of a financial mechanism to address the issue of loss and damage.

This means those peoples whose homes and communities have already been affected by climate change will get no specific help to make up for those impacts. It will be a blow to the world’s poorest, who suffer most from climate change even though they are the least responsible for it.

As the summit began at the end of November, it was not a given that a binding universal deal would be reached at all. Hopes were high, however, with many signs in the outside world that there was momentum for a strong agreement, and that lasting change was already taking place.

This year saw unparalleled political alliances for the climate, such as the US-China partnership, the Germany-Brazil declaration and US-India meetings. Leaders of some of the most polluting nations such as US President Barack Obama and China’s Xi Jinping committed to major emissions reductions and made climate finance pledges, showing that their countries were ready to get behind a deal they hadn’t pushed in the past. India’s Narendra Modi spoke of the importance of climate action, and set ambitious domestic renewable energy targets. In Australia and Canada, two countries which had been labelled climate “villains”, changes of government in the months preceding the summit were further boosts for the movement. And vulnerable nations and small island states showed cohesiveness and leadership as they spoke out for a strong deal.

In the energy world, the costs of renewables were continuing to fall, and clean energy was quickly gaining market share in richer and poorer regions. In 2015, 1,000 cities, including Paris, announced targets of 100 per cent renewable energy. Businesses like Google, Coca-Cola, BMW, Microsoft and many others did likewise, committing to a fully renewable electricity supply.  

The other side of the renewables boom was the crumbling of fossil fuels – particularly coal – with projects cancelled, firms in dire financial straits, and prices in turmoil. The divestment movement gained huge amounts of strength, with experts such as the Bank of England’s Mark Carney warning of the risks of stranded assets. Financial behemoths such as Axa and Allianz, cities like Melbourne and Münster, academic institutions like the London School of Economics and Oxford Brookes University – over 500 institutions in total – all pulled their money out of fossil fuels, reaching a total of $3.4 trillion during the climate summit.

As fossil fuel firms realised they were being pushed out of the picture, some tried to stay relevant by promoting a global carbon price, by creating new social media campaigns – including even inventing their own followers – by sponsoring the very climate talks whose success would hurt their bottom lines irreparably, and by paying lobby groups to do their dirty work for them. Such attempts were systematically shown for what they were by an array of studies and analyses which exposed the yawning chasm between fossil fuel firms’ actions and words.

Perhaps the most consistent and united calls this year for a meaningful Paris deal to speed up the ongoing transition to 100 per cent renewable energy came from civil society groups. The Pope, through a historic statement on the importance of protecting the planet and then further speeches, fired up the world’s Catholics and other faith groups got in on the action. A ground-breaking study in the Lancet journal on the impact of climate change on public health was a focal point for the many medical workers and doctors who marched and called for change. Trade unionists and workers also spoke out and marched for a just transition. Others from parents, to gender groups, indigenous people, young people and more joined in.

While many climate marches took place across the world this year – particularly in New York around the UN’s sustainable development meetings in September – the biggest ones were scheduled for the weekend before the COP21 summit kicked off, on 28-29 November. The tragic terrorist attacks in Paris the week before meant that the civil society actions planned for the French capital were cancelled. Instead, climate activists and campaigners placed hundreds of pairs of shoes on the Place de la République to represent those who could not march, and 10,000 people formed a human chain to call for an end to fossil fuels. But elsewhere around the world, from Dhaka to Tokyo, Geneva to Jakarta, 785,000 people turned out in force to march for the climate, as summit talks began.

Previous negotiations sessions, led by the French COP21 presidency, had led to a text going into the Paris summit that had been trimmed down but which still lacked bridging proposals on key elements such as climate finance, a mechanism to increase national ambition on reducing emissions, and a long-term decarbonisation goal. Throughout the year, countries had submitted their own national pledges for climate action. As talks opened in Paris, 160 countries had done so – and the combined effect of the implemented plans would be enough to keep the world on a path of around 3DegC of warming – still far from the 2DegC or 1.5DegC limit needed to avoid dangerous climate change – but a bigger step forward already than previous climate summits had managed to achieve.

Those going into the first week of talks were aware that one of the chief crunch issues would be climate finance – providing the pledged $100 billion per year for the developing countries by 2020, and scaling it up afterwards. Observers were also calling for a significant amount of climate finance money to be allotted to adaptation: that is, helping those countries already facing climate change impacts to adapt to and deal with them.

Other elements observers said were crucial to reach a strong agreement were a long-term goal for full decarbonisation, as supported by the G7 and the most vulnerable nations, and an ‘ambition mechanism’. This mechanism would mean countries have to review and increase their climate commitments every five years, ideally starting in 2020 at the latest, to meet the long-term decarbonisation target. Another issue campaigners saw as key was that of ‘loss and damage’: that is, supporting and assisting those nations already losing out due to climate change impacts.

On November 29, the summit opened with leaders of participating nations addressing delegates, as the world watched and again made clear its desire for a strong deal through a 3.6 million-signature-heavy petition. Leaders were praised for their words, which were generally strong and were seen to be injecting ambition into the beginning of the two week meeting. Those of most vulnerable nations were particularly welcomed, after they signed a declaration for 100 per cent renewables. After leaders went home, negotiators took over for the first week, followed by ministers the second week. As the days progressed, there appeared to be some progress made, for example on issues like the 1.5DegC temperature rise limit, with more and more nations, both developed and developing, supporting it.

Other countries, however, were accused of being ‘blockers’, and ‘fossils of the day’, but with real world momentum gaining speed outside the summit, it became ever clearer that they were fighting a lonely battle. With  major financial commitments secured, historic alliances forged, new targets for renewable energy, massive new divestment pledges, an unprecedented joint call for action from all parts of the health sector, and new figures showing global emissions had reached a plateau and that coal consumption worldwide is falling, it was clear that outside the walls of the negotiating rooms, a global shift was already taking place.

As ministers handed over their draft text on Wednesday of the second week, people attending COP21 staged a peaceful two-hour sit-in to remind governments of the need for an ambitious Paris deal that delivers enough emissions reductions and finance to protect the world’s most vulnerable. Six million people signed a petition delivered to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling for a strong solution. As citizen groups came together to demand climate justice, so did countries – albeit more slowly – to try and resolve key elements of the deal being negotiated, like a long-term decarbonisation goal and regular reviews to increase ambition.

Late on Thursday, another text was produced, which was then scrutinised by countries until 6am on the Friday morning. After another day of discussions, the final agreement text was delivered by COP21 president Laurent Fabius this afternoon, Saturday 12 December.

Despite its flaws, the Paris agreement is an historic agreement which unites an unprecedented number of countries in cutting emissions. It will help speed up the ongoing transition to a 100 per cent renewable energy future, protect people’s health, habitats and communities, and support the most vulnerable.

However, the ambition missing in certain crucial areas means there is still much more to be done. Politicians have been outpaced by the growing numbers of people, groups from economists to health and faith leaders, businesses and investors acting for the climate, and the real world shift from fossil fuels to renewables, which is set to gather speed post-Paris. The faster this can be scaled up, the greater the chance we have of minimising global temperature rise and protecting the world’s peoples from the worst impacts of climate change, and of maximising the benefits for young and old, poor and rich, men and women, north to south, east to west, of the coming clean energy future.

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Key Quotes

  • “I count on developed countries to provide financial resources for mitigation and adaptation, and to embark decisively on a low-emissions pathway.” – Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General

NGOs and campaigners

  • “For the first time in history, the whole world has made a public commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deal with the impacts of climate change. Although different countries will move at different speeds, the transition to a low carbon world is now inevitable. Governments, investors and businesses must ride this wave or be swept away by it. Negotiations were long and hard fought but the result is an agreement which will usher in a new dawn of climate-aware politics. The era of politicians burying their heads in the sand is over.” – Mohamed Adow, Senior Climate Advisor, Christian Aid
  • “Governments have critically agreed to keep warming well below 2C and aim to limit temperature increase to 1.5C. Everything they do from now on must be measured against that goal. And most importantly, they still need to actually deliver on that goal going forward, which must include assistance for the poor and vulnerable who will suffer from the immediate impacts of climate change. Those impacts are only getting worse and our ambition and actions must urgently match the scale of this global threat and be in line with science. Our leaders must make their actions stronger and stronger over time, in terms of mitigation, adaptation and finance. This is vital.”- Samantha Smith, Leader of the Global Climate and Energy Initiative, WWF
  • “The wheel of climate action turns slowly, but in Paris it has turned. This deal puts the fossil fuel industry on the wrong side of history.” – Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director, Greenpeace International
  • “This deal offers a frayed life-line to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Only the vague promise of a new future climate funding target has been made, while the deal does not force countries to cut emissions fast enough to forestall a climate change catastrophe. This will only ramp up adaptation costs further in the future. Governments across the world have now come together in the global fight against climate change but must play catch up. We will be holding them to account with the millions of people who marched in cities all around the world so that dangerous warming is averted and the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities get the support that they need.” – Helen Szoke, Executive Director, Oxfam
  • “The agreement’s temperature goal, net zero emissions objective, and processes to steadily increase the ambition of national emissions reduction commitments combine to send a clear message to the fossil fuel industry: after decades of deception and denial, your efforts to block action on climate change are no longer working. Growing public concern about climate impacts, and the availability of cost-effective efficiency and renewable energy solutions are giving leaders the political will to stand up to fossil fuel polluters and put us on a path to create the global clean energy economy needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.” – Alden Meyer, Director of Policy and Strategy, Union of Concerned Scientists
  • “People around the world are already greeting the dawn of a world powered by 100% renewable energy. Politicians in Paris must send a clear signal they’re ready to join us. Millions of us have marched in the streets and millions more will follow. We know our work for a fossil free world is just getting started. Millions of people from almost every country on earth are behind the campaign for 100% clean energy, marching in the streets, signing petitions, and calling their leaders to act. This rising global movement is getting bigger by the day. Paris must deliver a deal that ends the age of dirty energy and helps the sun rise on the safe, sustainable future people everywhere want.” – May Boeve, 350 Executive Director
  • “As the Chairman of The Climate Reality Project, I am proud that our team and our thousands of activists have engaged millions of citizens through our “Road to Paris” campaign to demand that world leaders take climate action. Along with our partners in the NGO community, we are committed to ensuring that the nations of the world leave Paris with a truly ambitious agreement that includes a meaningful long-term goal with regular five-year updates that ratchet our commitment progressively higher and thus sets the world on the path to a clean energy economy. Above all, we must unite the voices of civil society around the world to deliver one simple message to our leaders: the time to act is now.” – Al Gore, Climate Reality Chairman
  • “The Paris agreement is a turning point for humanity. For the first time in history, the global community agreed to action that sets the foundation to help prevent the worst consequences of the climate crisis while embracing the opportunity to exponentially grow our clean energy economy.  Decisive leadership and action from President Obama and other world leaders, an increasingly powerful climate movement, and strong progress in the U.S. and globally to move off coal cleared the way for every nation to come to the table.”- Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club
  • “What we needed out of Paris was a deal which put the world’s poorest people first – those who are living with the constant threat of the next disaster. Yet what we have been presented with doesn’t go far enough to improve the fragile existence of millions around the world. Despite disappointment, the Paris agreement provides an important hook on which people can hang their demands. As climate change continues to worsen and affect millions more, people are beginning to demand more from their governments and ask for the transformative change to secure homes, jobs and futures.  We already have the practical solutions to climate change, we now just need them to be scaled up with adequate support. Paris is only the beginning of the journey.” – Harjeet Singh, Global Lead on Climate Change, ActionAid
  • “Climate change is already causing devastating impacts for poor people around the world. Developed countries politicised the issue of loss and damage in the Paris talks, trying to limit options for poor countries to deal with climate  threats. With the Paris Agreement, all countries promise not to leave the poor behind. Developed countries leave Paris with an even higher moral obligation to scale up support for the most vulnerable people and to cut their emissions more rapidly.” – Sven Harmeling, Climate Change Advocacy Coordinator, CARE International
  • “Every government seems now to recognize that the fossil fuel era must end and soon. But the power of the fossil fuel industry is reflected in the text, which drags out the transition so far that endless climate damage will be done. Since pace is the crucial question now, activists must redouble our efforts to weaken that industry.” – Bill McKibben, Co-Founder, 350.org
  • “We welcome the agreement brokered at these crucial climate talks. This is a good step forward, but let’s not be complacent. This doesn’t give us everything we need – nations will need to go further in reducing their emissions over the next few years to ensure the global temperature does not rise by more than 1.5 degrees to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. What has been exciting is to see the growing movement these talks have fostered – people from all walks of life, including the church, have raised their voices for climate action here in Paris.  We will not stop this momentum, but continue to hold governments to account, to help people across the world who are seeing the devastating daily impact of climate change.” – Paul Cook, Advocacy Director, Tearfund
  • “Rapid action to address climate change is a matter of survival for my Pacific people and as such, how can we accept any compromises? That is why the Pacific region always puts forward the most ambitious proposals on the table at the negotiations. The Paris Agreement did not reflect all we asked for in the Suva Declaration on Climate Change, but Paris was never meant to be the last step. It was meant to be a progressive step in identifying new common grounds to address climate change together collectively through a new, universal agreement. The Pacific will continue be climate leaders post-COP21, and keep going strong to survive climate impacts and show leadership to the world. In the words of my Pacific community: ‘We shall overcome someday.’” – Krishneil Narayan, Coordinator, Pacific Islands Climate Action Network
  • “This historic agreement has sent a strong signal that we need to move away from fossil fuels and that we have a global need to act on climate now. In South Africa, we will follow up this international agreement with actions here at home to take climate action even further. We will be working hard to push South Africa to transition to a low-carbon economy, and call on our leaders to reform fossil fuel subsidies and build more accessible renewable energy.” – Happy Khambule, Coordinator, South African Climate Action Network
  • “The Paris Agreement is an important step forward. Countries worldwide are acting on climate change. This agreement marks the end of the fossil fuel era and the dawn of the renewable energy era. The momentum towards 100% renewable energy future is unstoppable. Although more must be done in the coming years, the Paris negotiations show that the New Zealand government is out of step with the world. New Zealand has chosen to take the opposite side of the table from its Pacific neighbours, resisting their call for a 1.5ºC goal, blocking progress on loss and damage, and turning deaf ears to their calls for increased climate finance. And the New Zealand government has also proven that it is out of step with the people of New Zealand. As proven by the People’s Climate Marches worldwide, New Zealanders are leading the transition to a safe, just climate future. It’s time for New Zealand politicians to get with the program.” – David Tong, Coordinator, New Zealand Climate Action Network
  • “If adopted by the 21st conference of parties today, all the countries in the world will have to agree to act together on climate change and all of them will have to make effort reflecting their common but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities to pursue efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5C that the existing INDCs will not be able to achieve. The onus is now on developed countries to fulfil their promises and scale up climate finance flows to support mitigation and adaptation efforts, especially for most vulnerable countries.” – Sanjay Vashist, Director, Climate Action Network South Asia
  • “All countries have agreed upon the pathway to phase out all fossil fuels, but failed to make headway towards this common goal. This is why the hard work needs to continue after the summit. The EU now needs to live up to the Paris agreement and recalibrate the climate targets for 2030 during the next European Council in March. It also needs to cut emissions much more drastically starting now. In particular, we expect the European Council to raise the 2030 emission reduction target well beyond 40%, to improve the renewables and energy efficiency targets and to tackle fossil fuel subsidies”. – Wendel Trio, Director of CAN Europe
  • “If agreed, this deal will represent a turning point in history, paving the way for the shift to 100% clean energy that the world wants and the planet needs. By marching in the streets, calling leaders and signing petitions, people everywhere created this moment, and now people everywhere will deliver on it to secure the future of humanity.” – Emma Ruby-Sachs, acting executive director of Avaaz
  • “The Paris Agreement has made some steps forward in order to face the climate crisis, but we know that more action is needed and citizens have to be considered in deciding and taking actions. It is important to see that there were clear signals about limiting the increase of temperature to 1.5C compared with pre-industrial levels. In Latin America, and special in the Central America and Caribbean region, climate change is happening. For our region, climate change is not only about future, models or scenarios, it is about our reality. The current reality that farmers and ecosystems, for example, are living. We need to know that what is agreed here in Paris, will guide strong actions to prevent climate change, but also to improve the climate resilience and to prevent the climate-induced losses and damages of those most vulnerable communities. Paris has given us a momentum, but we are clear that is not the end.” – Tania Guillen, Coordinator, CAN Latin America
  • “The Paris climate talks present a lowest common denominator of global politics, not the aspirations of the global community. It’s the people on the streets who provide the real hope for addressing the climate crisis. People fighting for climate justice around the world are the ones who will solve this problem and they’re already making headway day by day. This year, with wins over the Keystone XL pipeline and Arctic drilling, the climate movement has begun to show its  true strength. It is by continuing these fights day in and day out, year in and year out, through the voice of a growing global movement that cannot and will not be silenced, that change will happen.” – David Turnbull, Campaigns Director, Oil Change International
  • “Today, all of the countries in the world have agreed to act together to address the threat posed to humanity from climate change. This agreement signals the end of the fossil fuel era as the world rapidly replaces coal, oil and gas with clean energy sources. All countries, big and small, rich and poor, have acknowledged they have to act, and almost all are already doing so. This is an important and deliberate signal to businesses worldwide that there is a enormous transition underway and there will be great opportunities for innovation.” – Tim Flannery, Chief Councillor, Climate Council
  • “This global deal is a historic breakthrough. World leaders are now recognising what civil society and science have been saying for long, namely that the present targets and measures are far from sufficient. But while the treaty sets an ambitious target to hold warming well below 2 degrees C and to pursue efforts towards 1.5 degrees C, the emissions reduction target is strikingly weak and vague. Fortunately, a review mechanism is put in place, and we urge the EU to step up climate efforts not only in the union, but also globally, pushing for a stronger treaty in the near future.” – Mikael Karlsson, President of European Environmental Bureau (EEB)
  • “The Paris agreement is a historic turning point for the whole world. One of the most remarkable outcomes of the agreement is that its objective is to “pursue efforts to limit” global warming to 1.5oC above preindustrial, while holding warming “well below 2oC”. In doing so, the global community has recognised that the risks of global warming are far greater than previously understood, and that the scientific basis compelling very urgent action has never been stronger. It is a victory for the most vulnerable countries, the small islands, the least developed countries and all those with the most to lose, who came to Paris and said they didn’t want sympathy, they wanted action. The Paris Agreement calls for all the world’s nations to cooperate to peak global emissions as soon as possible and to undertake rapid  greenhouse gas emission reductions  bringing emissions  to net zero in the second half of the century. Importantly, this is to be done taking the best available science into account.” – Dr Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics
  • “Paris means Governments will go further and faster to tackle climate change than ever before. The transition to a low carbon economy is now unstoppable, ensuring the end of the fossil fuel age.” – Nick Mabey, Chief Executive of the climate diplomacy think tank E3G
  • “This agreement would mark a true turning point in the global effort to address climate change. The text reflects both the push for high ambition and the voices of the most vulnerable. It accelerates the energy transformation that is well underway, pointing us to a safer and stronger future.” – Jennifer Morgan, World Resources Institute
  • “This agreement marks the beginning of a new era where we find good examples of climate action from all, developed and developing countries, because it is in everyone’s best interests to do so. It is no longer about who is acting and who is not, but how strong the world can act together.” – Monica Araya, member of the Climate Vulnerable expert group
  • “A 1.5 degrees Carbon Budget means the fossil fuel era is well and truly over. There is absolutely no room for error. Fossil fuel companies must accept that they are an ex growth stock and urgently re-assess their business plans. New energy technologies have leapt down the cost curve in recent years. The effect of the momentum created in Paris means this is only going to accelerate. The need for the financial markets to fund the clean energy transition creates unparalleled opportunity for growth on a scale not seen since the industrial revolution.” – Anthony Hobley, the Carbon Tracker Initiative
  • “Our experience in Germany has shown that renewable energy can be scaled up rapidly with significant economic benefit. The decarbonisation signal from the Paris Agreement will increase and accelerate these benefits,  but  Germany still needs to up its game. Chancellor Merkel needs to commit to a plan to phase out the use of coal within the next two decades. The Paris outcome requires developed countries to come back next year with a credible plan for reaching their 2020 targets – that just is not going to be possible without a coal phase-out.” – Christoph Bals, Political Director at Germanwatch

Science

  • “Achieving a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century will require net carbon dioxide emissions to be reduced, in effect, to zero. It seems governments understand this, even if they couldn’t quite bring themselves to say so. To have a good chance of staying below 2 degrees, we need to aim for 1.5 degrees anyway, and it is sensible to acknowledge that 2 degrees itself is hardly “safe”. So, all told, a great outcome. Chapeau to French diplomacy.” – Myles Allen, University of Oxford
  • “This agreement is a turning point for a  world transformation within a 1.5-2°C safe operating space on Earth. Paris is a global starting point. Now we need action consistent with science to reach decarbonization by 2050 and sustainable development.” – Johan Rockström, Executive Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre
  • “The Paris agreement preamble recognizes obligations for countries to respect, promote and consider human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity. This recognition of rights and particular groups is a modest win for many concerned with climate justice, but will now have to be translated into action so that mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, finance and technology transfer explicitly consider how these policies affect, and hopefully benefit, human rights, women and other groups.” – Diana Liverman, Director, Institute of the Environment, University of Arizona
  • “If agreed and implemented, this means bringing down greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero within a few decades. It is in line with the scientific evidence we presented of what would have to be done to limit climate risks such as weather extremes and sea-level rise. To stabilize our climate, CO2 emissions have to peak well before 2030 and should be eliminated as soon as possible after 2050. Technologies such as bio-energy and carbon capture and storage as well as afforestation can play a role to compensate for residual emissions, but cutting CO2 is key. Governments can indeed write history today, so future generations will remember the Paris summit for centuries to come.” – John Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  • “The new Article 4 text is clearer in scientific terms than what we had before. Importantly, the benchmarks in terms of global peaking and global emissions reductions are consistent with the 1.5°C and 2°C temperature targets. Much remains to be done and it is encouraging to see that this agreement puts into place a process that could deliver this ambition.” – Joeri Rogelj, IIASA, UNEP Emissions Gap Report Lead Author
  • “The greatest achievement of this process is that more than 180 countries have submitted national climate policy goals. Nevertheless, this is an historic agreement  that sends a clear signal to policy makers, businesses and investors to start the transition to a low carbon and climate resilient society.” – Steffen Kallbekken, Research Director, CICERO
  • “The world truly reached a turning point with the historic Paris agreement, but this is not a time for self-congratulations.  This is our moment to unleash ambition  with new levels of innovation, building the clean energy system of the 21st century, developing sustainably, and comprehensively  protecting people and the planet.” – Chris Field, Founding Director, Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology

Faith

  • “Muslims living in some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries can be hopeful that this climate deal provides a foundation for positive change. In August, Muslim leaders laid out in a declaration, grounded in the Qur’anic teachings, their vision of the low-carbon future necessary for the peace and prosperity of the planet: while COP21 reaffirmed that this vision is necessary and feasible with strong political willpower, the various positive announcements of the last two weeks (and last six years) prove that it is already on its way to becoming a reality. There is still much work to be done: the Muslim community, in continued solidarity with those from other faiths and humanity at large, must now encourage those in Paris and beyond to live out their pledges and take responsibility as stewards of the Earth.”  – Muhtari Aminu-Kano, Senior Policy Advisor in Poverty Reduction at Islamic Relief Worldwide
  • “We are one earth and one human family, and this agreement is a solid step forward in responding to the climate crisis. We now must build on this foundation and be as ambitious as humanly possible to protect the vulnerable and our common home.” – Reverend Fletcher Harper, GreenFaith

Health

  • “Beijing’s first-ever ‘red alert’ this week, called due to dangerous levels of air pollution in the city, is a clear symbol of the crucial importance of a strong climate deal here in Paris.  Concerted action on climate change, particularly through a transition to clean energy, has immense potential to protect respiratory and cardiovascular health and to improve quality of life.  In China, it is estimated that over 4000 people die every day as a result of air pollution, much of which comes from burning coal, and worldwide, air pollution is responsible for 7 million deaths every year: a shocking one in eight of all deaths. By accelerating the transition to healthy renewable energy sources and continuing to scale up climate ambition over the coming years, we can protect millions of people from air pollution as well as the serious health impacts of climate change.” – Professor Peng Gong, Co-Chair, Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, Tsinghua University, Beijing
  • “We the physicians have the ethical duty to stand for the health of the population, so do all the politicians here in France today. We leave Paris with a strong public health agreement and are encouraged to see elements crucial to the protection of health central to the final agreement. Millions of physicians around the world have their eyes on Paris and are now looking forward and calling on their governments to get to work protecting the health of their populations.” – Dr. Xavier Deau, Former-President of the World Medical Association
  • “The Paris Climate Agreement cements a decisive call for concerted action to reduce emissions which are toxic to human and planetary health. It is now the duty of the health community to work with others to ensure that these emissions are dramatically reduced – to reduce exposure to leading NCD risk factors, limit global warming, and promote health for all.” – Mr José Luis Castro, Executive Director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
  • “The adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement and its embedded references to health mean that NCDs and other health issues can no longer be side-lined in the global response to climate change. The NCD Alliance and its Federations are dedicated to ensuring a comprehensive response to create sustainable environments in which we can live, work and prosper.” – Ms Johanna Ralston, CEO of the World Heart Federation
  • “The adoption of the Paris agreement is an unprecedented victory for people and planet, and a catalyst for the next phase of action. Now, all of government and all of society must come together in a coordinated response to mitigate the impacts of global warming, NCDs and ill-health.” – Ms Katie Dain, Executive Director, NCD Alliance
  • “The impact of climate change on everything from food production to heat stress and water scarcity means it poses the single biggest threat to global health. This agreement is incredibly important for beginning to ease that health burden, ultimately saving lives.  It will also set us on a path to a cleaner, less polluted world which in turn reduces costs for our healthcare systems.”‎ – Professor Hugh Montgomery, Co-Chair of the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change
  • “Every tonne of carbon that we put into the atmosphere turns up the planet’s thermostat, and increases risks to health. The actions that we need to take to reduce climate change would also help clean up our air and our water, and save lives. To take a medical analogy: We already have good treatments available for climate change, but we are late in starting the course. The Paris Agreement helps us take this forward and is a crucial step in protecting our climate and our health.” – Dr. Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, Climate Change Lead, World Health Organization
  • “As doctors, nurses, and other health professionals, it is our duty to safeguard the health of our families and communities. The Paris Agreement takes us one step closer to securing a future which protects the public from the impacts of climate change – the defining health issue of this century. Today, we are leaving France with a deal that bolsters community resilience, strengthens our health systems, and helps to tackle inequalities.” – Dr. Bettina Menne, Climate Lead, WHO Europe

Business & Economy

  • “This is a historic moment, not just for us and our world today, but for our children, our grandchildren and future generations. The Paris Agreement is a turning point in the world’s fight against unmanaged climate change, which threatens prosperity and well-being among both rich and poor countries. The Agreement creates enormous opportunities as countries begin to accelerate along the path towards long-carbon economic development and growth.” – Nicholas Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and President of the British Academy
  • “This is a historic moment. The world’s governments have finally understood what the science has long been telling them – we have to act now if the earth’s climate is to remain safe. Today they have committed to act  – and to act together. Historians will see this as the turning point: the moment when the world started shifting decisively away from fossil fuels and towards clean and safe energy systems. Remarkably this effectively signals the end of the fossil fuel era. This is unquestionably a great success. But the work really starts now. These commitments now need to turn into policy, and policy into investment. They can congratulate themselves for 24 hours – now they need to act.” – Michael Jacobs, Senior Adviser for the New Climate Economy
  • “This is a remarkable diplomatic settlement and a historic economic catalyst. The world’s governments have sent a decisive signal to businesses and investors that will accelerate the shift towards a thriving, clean global economy. The Paris Agreement for net zero emissions will turn the billions of investment we’ve seen so far into the trillions the world needs to bring clean energy and prosperity to all. The diplomatic process that included businesses, investors, cities, states, regions and civil society created a powerful alliance which has clearly raised the level of ambition in the negotiations. Businesses and investors look forward to playing a continued role in turning this agreement into on the ground reality.” – Nigel Topping, We Mean Business (WMB)
  • “Microsoft stands with the many voices within the private and public sectors urging the negotiators in Paris to come to a final agreement on climate change. Reaching agreement on a long-term goal framework for cutting carbon emissions and achieving GHG neutrality is critical to address climate change. It will also provide the certainty required for corporations around the world to accelerate their low-carbon investments and foster  the creation of a true low-carbon global economy.” – Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental Strategist, Microsoft
  • “We believe climate change is an urgent and pressing challenge, and it is clear that we must all do our part to reduce, avoid and mitigate the impact of rising greenhouse gas (GHG) levels. That’s why we support the UN’s call for the U.S. corporate sector to commit to science-based targets to reduce emissions.  In addition, we have already successfully decoupled our growth from emissions, and recently announced that we exceeded our goal to reduce 20 MMT of GHG emissions from our supply chain.” – Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc
  • “Back in October, we joined with the rest of the food and drink industry calling on global leaders to embrace the opportunity presented in Paris. Now really is the time for talk to become action and to meaningfully address the reality of climate change.  Global policy makers should think big. Because big thinking leads to big results. Having a long term science based target will drive ideas and innovation, ultimately making what may have seemed impossible – possible. We are on the cusp of a deal that can change the world. And as a business we are committed to tackling the climate challenges that face us. We hope that global leaders will do the same.” – Kevin Rabinovitch, Global Sustainability Director,  Mars Incorporated

Security

  • “Military leaders, assembled under GMACCC, realising the fragility of the situation call upon leaders for urgent action to implement the Paris agreement, to save mankind from the catastrophic consequences of climate change. The Paris agreement must be more than paperwork. Its success depends on a verifiable, implementable, transparent and fair agreement which is made accountable. The military has a new, definitive, more humanitarian role, to deal with millions of people on the move, and this will only grow over time as climate impacts bite.” – Major General (ret) A M N Muniruzzaman, Chairman of Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change (GMACCC) Bangladesh

Indigenous peoples

  • “We, Indigenous Peoples, are the redline. We have drawn that line with our bodies against the privatisation of nature, to dirty fossil fuels and to climate change. We are the defenders of the world’s most biologically and culturally diverse regions. We will protect our sacred lands. Our knowledge has much of the solutions to climate change that humanity seeks. It’s only when they listen to our message that ecosystems of the world will be renewed” – Tom Goldtooth Executive Director of Indigenous Environmental Network

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