Winners and losers in the Paris climate pact

December 14, 2015 04:02 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 11:03 pm IST - Le Bourget (Paris)

The climate deal adopted in suburban Paris was the culmination of four years of negotiations on how to get nearly all countries to jointly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are warming the planet.

The talks were difficult and sometimes teetered on the brink of collapse. Every country made compromises to get the deal done, but some got more than others by the time the gavel dropped on Saturday.

Paris Declaration

The climate deal was the culmination of four years of negotiations. Every country made compromises, but some got more than others.

Small Islands

The small island nations pushed hard for two things — a global commitment to try to limit Earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees C, and recognition that they’re going to need help to deal with damage caused by climate change.

United States of America

The deal has no new legally binding emissions or financial targets. And it requires everyone, not just rich countries, to set emissions targets and be transparent about what they are doing to meet them.


Almost everyone involved praised France for making the deal come together. With masterful diplomacy, the French built bridges and gave every country confidence that its voice was being heard. France also earned respect for staying the course despite the IS-led terror attacks.

European Union

The Europeans helped form a “high-ambition coalition” of rich and poor countries. The EU successfully introduced a mechanism in the deal designed to ramp up emissions targets over time, but caved on demands that the targets be legally binding.


The country didn’t have to cross any of its red lines. Though a strict firewall between developed and developing countries is gone, the deal still reflects different capabilities of rich and poor throughout the text, a key Chinese demand. Unlike Copenhagen summit, China wasn’t seen as blocking the talks in Paris.


Knowing its emissions are expected to peak later than those of other major economies, India made sure the text includes some leeway for developing nations. It reluctantly accepted the 1.5 degree goal and failed to get the deal to oblige rich countries to provide clean technology free of intellectual property rights to poor ones.

Saudi Arabia

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia argued against the 1.5-degree temperature target and a long-term goal to phase out emissions. It lost both battles. However, the long-term goal doesn’t specifically mention emissions from fossil fuels, a small win for the Saudis.

Fossil fuels

The biggest loser in the Paris agreement could be the fossil fuel industry. The deal signals to businesses that governments will enact policies over time to promote a shift toward cleaner energy sources, such as wind and solar power. Of course, it remains to be seen whether they follow up on their pledges. In response to the deal, the World Coal Association referred to projections that “electricity generation from coal would grow by 24 per cent by 2040” even with the emissions targets countries have set so far.

Intended Nationally Determined Contributions

In a bid to achieve the goal to curb temperature rise, nations have submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the UNFCCC.

Pledges from 148 countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 are insufficient to limit global warming to 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. Here is a look at the INDCs of some of the major emitters.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.