COP21 agreement: All you need to know about Paris climate change deal

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Old 13-Dec-2015
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COP21 agreement: All you need to know about Paris climate change deal

French foreign minister and President of the COP21 Laurent Fabius, right, and France's Laurence Tubiana, special representative for the COP21, left, frame United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres after the final conference of the COP21, the United Nations conference on climate change, in Le Bourget, north of Paris, Saturday, Dec.12, 2015. (AP)

After four years of talks , representatives from 195 countries have created history in Paris by agreeing to a comprehensive climate change deal that will commit nearly every country to lowering planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions besides giving a boost to clean energy business.

The COP21 agreement will have a lot in store for economies in transition like India with over a trillion dollars in green investment set to be handed out in the next decade or so, enabling the adoption of greener technologies — an endgame that the agreement sets out to achieve.

On Earth Day, falling on April 22, 2016, it will be opened for the signatures of members for one year. And it will enter into force once 55 countries accounting for at least 55% of emissions ink it.

Here are the highlights of the deal:

1. Goal: The long-term goal is to limit global warming to “well below” 2 degrees celsius over pre-Industrial Revolution levels, and to try for 1.5 degree if possible.

Impact: Will push out fossil fuels from economies.

2. Peak: The world will aim for climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions to peak “as soon as possible”, probably in second half of the century.

Impact: Will provide affordable green technologies to developing countries.

3. Climate action: Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to be reviewed again in 2023 and then once every five years to reflect highest possible ambition as per the individual capabilities of countries.

Impact: Introduces ‘name and shame’ regime for nations that don’t have an ambitious climate plan.

4. Emission reduction: Developed countries to take economy-wise absolute emission reduction (no target) and developing countries to enhance their mitigation efforts.

Impact: Introduces cooperative effort to reduce emissions, with higher burden on richer nations.

5. Loss and damage: The agreement includes a section recognising “loss and damage” associated with climate-related disasters. The US was worried it would lead to claims of compensation for damage caused by extreme weather events . It was included with a footnote specifically stating that loss and damage does not involve liability or compensation.

Impact: Most vulnerable nations will be partially covered for loss because of disasters. It is a victory for small island nations threatened by rising seas.

6. Finance: Developed countries to take lead in providing financial assistance with floor of $100 billion by 2020 from variety of sources including “significant role” of public funds. Expansion of donor base to be considered in future.

Impact: Countries like India, say after 2030, will have to contribute.

7. Transparency: Technical Expert Review of climate action plans for all parties with different level for developed and developing world depending on national capability and circumstances. Biennial update in form of established International Assessment and Review for rich nations and International Consultation and Analysis for developing world.

Impact: Brings all countries on single accountability platform.

8. Taking stock: First of climate action plans to happen in 2023 and then every five years with an aim to enhance voluntary commitments by each country. India has committed emission intensity reduction by 33-35% and a 40% non-fossil energy use by 2030 in its first climate action plan submitted this October.

Impact: Gives permanency for periodic enhancement of climate action plans.

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