Climate deal reached in Paris sets 1.5C target

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at COP21

On Sunday 195 countries signed an agreement that sets the target of keeping global temperature rise at a maximum of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, and agrees to raise $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries cope with commitments.

French President Francois Hollande said the deal was “a major leap for mankind.” Those involved in the two weeks of talks paint a picture of difficulties that put the possibility of a deal into question, but that ultimately major progress was made to bring all parties together and agree on a deal that is the greatest success of 20 years of negotiations.

US President Barack Obama said the deal “shows what is possible when the world stands as one. This agreement represents the best chance we have to save the one planet that we’ve got.”

But doubt remains. The target on 1.5C is a very positive step from 2C which is thought would have severe effects on the planet. Global temperatures have already risen about 1C and sea levels have risen 190 mm since 1880.

Experts have pointed out, however, that the actual targets of the deal in terms of emissions reductions are not sufficient. Founder of Bill McKibben said “The power of the fossil fuel industry is reflected in the text of the agreement, which drags out the transition so far that endless climate damage will be done.”

The French reportedly played a leading and inspiring role in bringing nations together and reaching a compromise that may be insufficient, but crucially stipulates that all nations must make sacrifices. There will be a review in 5 years to assess how countries are performing, but it is thought the deal lacks legal penalties for not complying.

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