The delegates at Le Bourget outside Paris (France) are now heading home and all ONGs have started to wrap up their stands. The COP21 meeting has reached an agreement which is celebrated as a major breakthrough in the global climate debate. Here it is finally: a legally binding resolution to reduce our emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases and thereby limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius by 2100.
The road to the final text has been long. As the name COP21 reveals, this was in fact the 21st annual meeting of the Conference of the Parties. It saw its birth in the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which in turn, in 1997, generated the well-known Kyoto Protocol. In 2009, during the COP15 in Copenhagen, there was an accord on the scientific case for a need to cap temperature rises at two degrees. However, until now, the world had not been able to unite neither around the commitments nor on how to measure and verify them. Another big obstacle was the financing, since the most developed countries wanted to share this obligation with the developing countries, while the latter did not even want to accept contributions related to the strength of their economies.
In order to anchor COP21 in the individual countries, the work was initiated bottom-up in 146 national climate panels. These outlined their targets in publicly published documents and when analysed as a totality, it was estimated that in the year 2100 they would have resulted in an average temperature-rise of 2.7 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This is considered to be beyond the tipping point, where melting polar ices, changed sea currents and a thawing tundra will start to reinforce the greenhouse effect and thus make it irreversible. Hence, the objective of the Paris negotiations was to, at least, come down to the original target. Among the top four CO2 emitting countries and groupings, the European Union was considered to have set a quite far-reaching goal for itself, so the big challenge was to win over the world’s biggest economy, USA, and the two most populous countries, China and India.
To achieve that, the sessions were opened on November 30, 2015, with all important heads of states present at Le Bourget. Following on this were almost two weeks of meetings in different sub-committees in the so called Blue Zone, where only official delegates could take part, but which could be followed by everyone interested via live streaming. As so often, however, the public debates were formal and diplomatic, while the really tough discussions were held behind the scenes.
To build interest in COP21 also among the general public and the international business community, the organisers had created additional centres in Le Bourget. The Gallery was only open for environmentally profiled companies and provided opportunities for networking. Climate Generations Areas, on the other hand, granted everybody else the possibility to, free-of-charge, enjoy seminars, exhibitions and happenings related to global climate issues. On top of this – since Le Bourget is located at the outskirts of Paris, at Grand Palais in the very city centre, the exhibition Solutions COP21 offered presentations of possible solutions to the world’s big problems and the chance for private companies to interact with tourists and other visitors.
The outcome of COP21 is the result of international co-operation, but it is worth pointing out that it would not have come about, had it not been for French national pride. France started working for a success in Paris already years ago and the big push during the last hours of the conference was largely credited to this country.
Thanks to this resolution, we might be able to avoid the negative effects of climate change: rising sea levels, drought, extreme weather conditions etc. With this background, the organisers have every reason to be content. Many will say that this agreement is much too limited and comes much too late, but let us see it from the positive side: we now have the most international and ambitious environmental agreement the world has ever seen. And, as you know, at BNL Clean Energy we offer decisive solutions to meet these common goals.