Call for pact on emission cuts

U.S. embraces its responsibility to stop global warming: Obama.

Updated - November 17, 2021 04:13 am IST

Published - November 30, 2015 04:42 pm IST - PARIS

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during their meeting at the start of the climate summit in Paris on Monday.

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during their meeting at the start of the climate summit in Paris on Monday.

U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, representing the two top emitters of greenhouse gases in the world, made a firm commitment at the Paris Climate Change conference on Monday to work for change, and called for an agreement that would cut carbon emissions and pave the way for a global transition to a green economy.

Touching on an emerging issue in climate policy, French President Francois Hollande called for a progressive tax on carbon to reflect its true price, and send the message that there is a cost to emitting greenhouse gases damaging the environment. At the Leaders Event being held for the first time in such talks, Mr. Obama wanted the Paris conference to send the right signal that it means business on encouraging new clean technologies.

Hundreds of billions of dollars were waiting to be deployed internationally to foster green innovation, he said, calling for the right rules and incentives to be put in place to unleash the creative potential of scientists and technologists. A large number of new jobs and new opportunities were waiting to be created.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while inaugurating the India Pavilion at the COP21 event, said India intended to make massive changes to its energy profile by increasing the share of renewables, achieving 175 GW by 2022.

In a reference to high expectations and difficulties in drafting consensus, Mr. Obama said: “Cynicism is an enemy we will be fighting at this conference.” He also asserted that the U.S. recognised its role as the second highest emitter, and embraced its responsibility to do something about it. America would make its contributions to the developed countries’ fund, he would make a further pledge on Tuesday, and meet the most affected group, the small island states, he said.

Let developing nations choose solutions: Xi

Referring to the rich-poor divide in combating climate change, Mr. Xi told the Paris conference on Monday that full and effective implementation of the principles and rules of the UNFCCC, notably Common But Differentiated Responsibilities, should be ensured.

Developing nations should be allowed to seek their own solutions best suited to national conditions, while developed nations should mobilise funds for the $100 billion a year they had agreed to give before 2020. High levels of support should follow on an annual basis.

Mr. Xi said China would forge South-South climate change cooperation, through its $20-billion fund, launch ten low-carbon industrial parks and support 100 mitigation and adaptation projects in other developing countries.

The Paris meet has set a record with an unprecedented number of world leaders attending. Welcoming the leaders of 150 countries, French President Francois Hollande said the key requirement for a successful conference would be the formulation of a credible path to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius, or 1.5 degrees C if possible.

“On December 12, an agreement must be reached,” the French President said, stressing that developed countries have a historic responsibility for emissions. Emerging countries must, in parallel, accelerate their transition to clean technologies and they must be helped.

Calling the Paris meet exceptional, Mr. Hollande said the $100 billion for developing countries, need not be set anew as a target. The focus has to be on generating these funds and ensuring their availability. On another contentious area, he said all technology for clean development should be accessible to all countries.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the leaders that the agreement in Paris must propose a long-term project, underpinned by the 2 degrees C target. The agreement must also be dynamic, without being subject to renegotiation on the basis of global economic changes. Also, the Paris decision must show solidarity with the poor and the most vulnerable.

The executive secretary of the body, Christiana Figueres, said the conference highlighted the spirit of Paris after the recent terrorist attack — showing that leaders were capable of standing in solidarity, that they would address the collective good in spite of the past, present and future differences.

Prince Charles, in an address, said that if the planet had been a patient, she would have been put in treatment. It was time to put her on “life support,” he said. On the eve of the Copenhagen conference in 2009, he had tried to highlight the world had only 100 months to alter human behaviour. Eighty months had passed, but things had not changed. “Consider the needs of the youngest generation, more than anything else,” he said, lamenting that despite the availability of good science, it was not being applied to climate change policy.

Early funding

Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland announced on Monday a new $500-million initiative that “will find new ways to create incentives aimed at large-scale cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries to combat climate change”, a World Bank statement said.

The Transformative Carbon Asset Facility to go into operation in 2016 in developing countries is aimed at helping them cut plans to reduce emissions through new classes of carbon assets associated with greenhouse gas emission reductions.

The World Bank said the facility would measure and fund emission cuts in large-scale programmes in renewable energy, transport, energy efficiency, solid waste management, and low-carbon cities.

In another announcement for vulnerable countries, 11 donors pledged close to $250 million in new money for support to adapt themselves to climate change effects.

Canada, Denmark, Finland, France and the U.S. among other countries, announced contributions to the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), a fund hosted by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

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