1. Temperatures to be kept well below 2 degrees, and aiming for a 1.5 degree goal
Scientists have told us that 1.5 degrees is the critical threshold before we witness catastrophic changes to our climate (think mass migrations for hundreds of millions of people!). By recognising the 1.5 degree goal, governments are sending a signal that they are committed to remaining in line with science, and averting the climate crisis scientists have been shouting about.
But current individual targets submitted by countries (called “INDCs”) will lead us to a world which is 2.7 degree warmer. Countries still have a lot of work to do!
2. Vulnerable countries will get $100 billion a year to help adapt to climate change – via “The Green Climate Fund”
Countries – particularly developed ones – have pledged to raise $100 billion from 2020 onwards.
But many developing countries argue that this is nowhere near enough, as they are expecting mass evacuations, more intense natural disasters and disruptions to agriculture.
3. “Five-Year Reviews”
What we like
Countries have agreed to meet every 5 years for a ‘stock-take’ to review progress and set new targets. They’ve also stated 2018 as a critical global moment for countries to come back to the table, and take stronger actions.
4. “Loss & Damage”
It has been recognised that many countries – particularly low-lying island states – are exceptionally vulnerable to climate change and will need protection.
But not much is said about securing the support they need! There is no mention that the poor and vulnerable will be compensated for the damages they’ll suffer from climate change.
5. A clear goal to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy by 2050
What we like
All governments and finance institutions (e.g. World Bank) have agreed that far more lending needs to go into solar, wind and other green energy technologies, and far less should go into fossil fuels. Many commentators have said that the Paris agreement signals the end of the fossil fuel era, ushering in a new movement for renewable energy.
6. A goal to protect forests – by halting deforestation and degradation, and improving land management.
What we like
The agreement also includes a process that can provide guidance for land sector accounting. On the sidelines of COP21, the UK and Norway also pledged an additional $5 billion by 2020 to help developing countries protect their forests.
But all in all, the Paris agreement is only the beginning of a long road ahead.
Much of the agreement is not legally binding – future governments could renegade on their commitments, and as with all UN
agreements, countries cannot be forced to do more than they commit to.
When delegates return from Paris, the real work begins. Governments, corporates and civil society need to work hand in hand to achieve the critical 1.5 degree limit we require to preserve humanity.