Nearly 200 nations signed a landmark deal on climate in Paris, agreeing to change the course away from fossil fuel-driven economies and set up a framework to arrest global warming and leave a more habitable world for future generations.
“The Paris Agreement is a monumental triumph for people and our planet,” said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in a tweet, immediately following its adoption. “It sets the stage for progress in ending poverty, strengthening peace and ensuring a life of dignity and opportunity for all.”
For the first time today, 195 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – pledged to curb emissions, strengthen resilience and joined to take common climate action. This followed two weeks of tireless negotiations at the United Nations climate change conference (COP21).
Gavelling the agreement with a green hammer, the French Foreign Minister and President of COP21, Laurent Fabius, announced the historic news – a moment greeted with loud applause and cheers, as the room stood up. Many delegates hugged, while others had tears in their eyes.
The Paris Agreement and the outcomes of COP21 cover all the crucial areas identified as essential for a landmark conclusion: mitigation – reducing emissions fast enough to achieve the temperature goal; a transparency system and global stock-take – accounting for climate action; adaptation – strengthening ability of countries to deal with climate impacts; loss and damage – strengthening ability to recover from climate impacts; and support – including finance, for nations to build clean, resilient futures.
“In the face of an unprecedented challenge, you have demonstrated unprecedented leadership,” the UN chief said taking the COP21 stage just minutes later. “You have worked collaboratively to achieve something that no one nation could achieve alone. This is a resounding success for multilateralism,” a UN statement quoted him as saying.
Recalling that he made climate change one of the defining priorities of his tenure as Secretary-General, Ban said that most of all, he has listened to people – the young, the poor and the vulnerable, including indigenous peoples, from every corner of the globe.
“They seek protection from the perils of a warming planet, and the opportunity to live in a safer, more bountiful world,” he said. “They have demanded that world leaders act to safeguard their well-being and that of generations to come.”
Turning to the agreement itself, the Secretary-General said negotiators reached “solid results on all key points,” with an agreement that demonstrates solidarity and “is ambitious, flexible, credible and durable.”
“All countries have agreed to hold global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius. And recognizing the risk of grave consequences, you have further agreed to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees,” he announced.
In addition, a review mechanism has been established whereby every five years, beginning in 2018, parties will regularly review what is needed in line with science.
Highlighting the role of the private sector, the UN chief said business leaders came to Paris in unprecedented numbers and that “powerful” climate solutions are already available while many more are to come.
“With these elements in place, markets now have the clear signal they need to unleash the full force of human ingenuity and scale up investments that will generate low-emissions, resilient growth,” he said, adding that “what was once unthinkable has now become unstoppable.”
Addressing the hundreds of delegates, Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, said “we did it in Paris.”
“We have made history together. It is an agreement of conviction. It is an agreement of solidarity with the most vulnerable. It is an agreement of long-term vision, for we have to turn this agreement into an engine of safe growth,” she exclaimed.
In an emotional address during which he held back tears, Laurent Fabius said the agreement “will serve meaningful causes, food safety and security, public health, the fight against poverty and for essential rights, and therefore peace.”
“People worldwide, our citizens, our children, wouldn’t understand if we didn’t adopt it and wouldn’t forgive us,” he insisted.
“It is rare to be given the opportunity to change the world,” said President François Hollande, wrapping up the meeting. “You have the opportunity to do that.”
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement that the world had come together come together to forge a deal that finally reflects the aspiration, and the seriousness, to preserve our planet for future generations.
“First, it leaves no one behind – protecting the poorest people and the most vulnerable countries by calling on all of us to hold the increase in temperatures to well below 2 degrees C and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“Second, it sends the much needed signal to trigger the massive sums of public and private sector investments needed to drive economies toward a carbon neutral world as advised by science. While doing this, we will strive to ensure that there is the necessary finance to provide resilience for developing countries.
“Third, it changes development. We agree there is no development without tackling climate change. We cannot poison the planet and thrive.”