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The Paris Agreement: a turning point in climate protection

14.12.2015 - Article

Consensus has been reached in Paris between 195 nations on an Agreement that makes climate protection binding under international law for all countries.

Consensus has been reached between 195 nations at the 21st Session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris on an Agreement that makes climate protection binding under international law for all countries. In order to limit global warming to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels”, the countries have reached a binding Agreement on making the world de facto climate neutral in the second half of the century.

A well-rounded success for the entire globe

Climate summit makes history
Climate summit makes history© UN-Klima

Billions of people have been waiting a long time for a signal like this – and some thought it was not possible. But the international community proved in Paris that it is capable of acting and showing solidarity – also at times of crisis. This historic turning point lays the foundations for a global transformation of the economy, policies and society.

In order that everyone can benefit from this transformation, the Agreement provides for support for developing and particularly vulnerable countries in undertaking this challenging task. This includes support on emissions reduction (e.g. through technology transfer and capacity-building) and measures to adapt to climate change (e.g. through climate risk insurance and better damage prevention).

Lessons learned

Conclusion of COP21: a joint climate Agreement has been reached
Conclusion of COP21: a joint climate Agreement has been reached© picture-alliance/abaca

What was different at COP21? The first difference was that work on the negotiations started early. By the run-up to the conference, 187 countries had already presented national climate-protection plans that included voluntary commitments. An “ambition mechanism” was agreed in Paris in order to bridge the gap to the upper limit of 2°C. This means that the countries will now have to present new – and increasingly ambitious – climate-protection plans every five years. For the first time, each country will now also have to report on the actual progress made in order to ensure that the plans are implemented.

Unlike previous climate talks, the rigid differentiation between industrialised and developing countries was surmounted at COP21. The new “high ambition coalition”, in which a group from North and South and from industrialised and developing countries joined forces, played a major role in this. As members of the “high ambition coalition”, Germany and the EU were the driving forces behind the consensus. Once again at this COP session, Germany proved its leading role in climate policy, which it has also played during its G7 Presidency this year.

Implementation and next steps

The German stand at COP21
The German stand at COP21© German Embassy Paris

The aim is to transform the global economy in a climate-friendly way. However, this transformation will also pose great challenges to politics, business and societies all over the world. But we can also call on past experience in implementing the Agreement – not least the lessons learned from the transformation of Germany’s energy system.

At the same time, the climate-protection solutions we can provide and develop must also foster sustainable development, the eradication of poverty and a sustainable energy supply. The Agreement clearly specifies these connections, thus also aiding crisis prevention, addressing the causes of displacement and preserving peace and stability.

The Agreement will be signed by the countries at a high-level ceremony on 22 April 2016. The new Convention will enter into force in 2020 as a follow-up regime to the Kyoto Protocol to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. At least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting for at least 55 percent of total global emissions must have ratified the Agreement by then.

Further information

Adoption of the Paris Agreement

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