China, the top emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, accounting for about 25 per cent of emissions, welcomed the > Paris Agreement on Saturday night.
Xie Zhenhua, the Chinese climate envoy, addressing the Plenary at the Climate Conference, CoP21, said the pact may not be perfect, and some areas needed improvement. “But it does not prevent us from marching forward in historic steps. The agreement is fair, just, comprehensive and balanced, with legally binding force”.
He called for enhancing the ambition among developed countries on pre-2020 action to cut emissions and increase finance contributions, besides the period beyond 2020. The Agreement reflects the balance struck between the world's interest and that of different countries. Developed countries need to honour their commitments on capital, technology, and capacity building support to developing countries going into the future, he emphasised.
China would undertake its international obligations, and take steps to meet goals before 2020, actively implementing its national pledge to peak its greenhouse gases as soon as possible. It would work with all countries.
Throughout the Plenary, the role of the G77+China bloc of countries came in for repeated praise.
US says it is a strong signal
US Secretary of State, John Kerry said the Agreement provided a critical message for the marketplace. Business would be unleashed, since it now understood that “we need to move in this direction.” The innovation that is expected would produce “the next great product that will change our lives.”
He called the Agreement a tremendous victory for all of our citizens, not one country, not one bloc but for everybody — all of the planet and future generations. “We have set a course here,” he said, describing it as a new, smart and sustainable path. There were 196 delegations and the world had reached a global, clean energy economy. The steps ahead would prevent the most devastating consequences of climate change from happening.
America did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, it may be recalled, and the Obama administration faces conservative domestic opposition to the idea of participating in a global agreement that requires it to curb its high greenhouse gas emissions. Since the outcome in Paris, despite being legal, is called an Agreement and not a Treaty, it does not have to mandatorily be passed by the US Senate.
The French President, Francoise Hollande said Paris had produced an ambitious, binding, universal agreement. “You will remember for a long time that it was in Paris, on the 12th of December that this was concluded. You will stand proudly before you children and grandchildren, when they ask about your achievement,” he told the delegates at the Plenary.
It was an agreement that the world had been waiting for 40 years. Scientists were more and more sure of their evidence over time, and the statements of concerned leaders like Al Gore [who was present at the Plenary and received loud applause] sounded the alarm that it was time to act. There was the failure of Copenhagen [in 2009], which somewhat chilled some of the boldest spirits, and discouraged heads of state who were committed to the cause. But the process had recovered and gone on to win.
The Venezuelan delegation said the late president, Hugo Chavez was keen to preserve multilateralism to arrive at solutions to major challenges, and the process had led to the Paris Agreement which it supported. Caracas had already submitted its INDC and would work to implement it. Paris was once again the city of light and hope.
Russia said the global community was beginning a new stage in its history after more than 20 years of international climate cooperation. The Russian Federation welcomed the Paris Agreement with differentiated efforts and in the spirit of climate justice. The international agreement was ambitious, for the first time enshrining clearly methods to protect vulnerable countries, including natural ecosystems. Referring to individual country priorities and disagreements, Russia's statement said living in society was not possible without making concessions, as the pact-making showed. Going ahead, a great deal of work had to be done, and the international community needed to launch joint efforts. It should maintain mutual trust, as it had done during the negotiations.
Saudi Arabia, representing the Arab group, made a brief statement congratulating the entire world for having achieved the “historic convention,” which had a good level of balance.
Road to curb temperature rises
The goal of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, COP21, is to achieve a legally binding, international agreement to keep average global temperatures no more than 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures*
Global mean temperatures above pre-industrial levels
- 1850-1900 Average temperature 13.7°C
- 1.0°C Temperature rise expected to surpass 1°C in 2015
- 2.7°C Forecast warming† by 2100 even if all COP21 pledges are implemented
- 4-5°C Forecast rise by 2060 if current emissions levels continue
- 2.0°C 2010: 193 nations sign Cancun Agreements committing governments to “hold increase in global average temperature below 2°C above pre-industrial levels”
- 3-5°C Warming on existing emissions-reduction policies. Low-lying island states at risk from rising sea levels
*Accurate assessment of temperatures in 1750s – when industrial revolution began – is difficult. To overcome problem, climatologists use average temperatures recorded between 1850 and 1900. †United Nations Synthesis report on aggregate effect of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)
Sources: UK Met. Office Hadley Centre, Climate Action Tracker, WMO - © GRAPHIC NEWS