Climate Change Accord Gets Unanimous Approval

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December 13, 2015

The verdict was unanimous among the 196 nations attending the climate summit in France: things have to change.

Representatives of every single nation attending the summit in Paris pledged to abide by regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, with a goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Recent rate measurements have ranged from 2.5 degrees to 3.76 degrees.

The discussions that produced the landmark agreement lasted a solid two weeks and then some, including several bouts of all-night negotiations.

Among the enticements for developed nations to sign on was a commitment of a $100 billion-a-year fund, starting in 2020, to assist developing nations in their drive away from fossil fuels and toward more renewable energy.

The plan calls for several opportunities to take stock of progress. The first stocktake is scheduled for 2023; further global investigations will occur at five-year intervals. The timeline for making the level of emissions zero is “during the second half of the century.”

The summit was the 21st yearly session of the Conference of Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Thus, the summit had the acronym COP21.

The Paris summit delivered what a 2009 summit in Copenhagen could not, a broad agreement approved by every participating nation. That broad agreement, however, contains no mechanisms of enforcement.

The last major climate deal was the Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997. Like it, the Paris accord is not a fully legally binding treaty. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, however, the COP21 accord contains no country-specific goals for emissions.

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