2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference

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2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference
2015 Climate Conference.svg
Date30 November 2015 (2015-11-30)
12 December 2015 (2015-12-12)
Location Le Bourget in the suburbs of Paris, France
Also known asCOP21 (UNFCCC)
CMP11 (Kyoto Protocol)
ParticipantsParties to the UNFCCC
Previous event 2014 United Nations Climate Change Conference
Next event 2016 United Nations Climate Change Conference
Website Venue site
UNFCCC site

The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 or CMP 11 was held in Paris, France, from 30 November to 12 December 2015. It was the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties (CMP) to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. [1]

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zürich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018.

United Nations Climate Change conference yearly conference held in the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The United Nations Climate Change Conferences are yearly conferences held in the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). They serve as the formal meeting of the UNFCCC Parties to assess progress in dealing with climate change, and beginning in the mid-1990s, to negotiate the Kyoto Protocol to establish legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. From 2005 the Conferences have also served as the "Conference of the Parties Serving as the Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol" (CMP); also parties to the Convention that are not parties to the Protocol can participate in Protocol-related meetings as observers. From 2011 the meetings have also been used to negotiate the Paris Agreement as part of the Durban platform activities until its conclusion in 2015, which created a general path towards climate action.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international environmental treaty adopted on 9 May 1992 and opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992. It then entered into force on 21 March 1994, after a sufficient number of countries had ratified it. The UNFCCC objective is to "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system". The framework sets non-binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries and contains no enforcement mechanisms. Instead, the framework outlines how specific international treaties may be negotiated to specify further action towards the objective of the UNFCCC

Contents

The conference negotiated the Paris Agreement, a global agreement on the reduction of climate change, the text of which represented a consensus of the representatives of the 196 parties attending it. [2] The agreement enters into force when joined by at least 55 countries which together represent at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. [3] [4] [5] On 22 April 2016 (Earth Day), 174 countries signed the agreement in New York, [6] and began adopting it within their own legal systems (through ratification, acceptance, approval, or accession).

Paris Agreement International agreement with the goal of stopping the effects of global warming.

The Paris Agreement is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance, signed in 2016. The agreement's language was negotiated by representatives of 196 state parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Le Bourget, near Paris, France, and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015. As of March 2019, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, and 186 have become party to it. The Paris Agreement's long-term goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; and to limit the increase to 1.5 °C, since this would substantially reduce the risks and effects of climate change.

Climate change Change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns for an extended period

Climate change occurs when changes in Earth's climate system result in new weather patterns that last for at least a few decades, and maybe for millions of years. The climate system comprises five interacting parts, the atmosphere (air), hydrosphere (water), cryosphere, biosphere, and lithosphere. The climate system receives nearly all of its energy from the sun, with a relatively tiny amount from earth's interior. The climate system also gives off energy to outer space. The balance of incoming and outgoing energy, and the passage of the energy through the climate system, determines Earth's energy budget. When the incoming energy is greater than the outgoing energy, earth's energy budget is positive and the climate system is warming. If more energy goes out, the energy budget is negative and earth experiences cooling.

Earth Day Annual event on 22 April

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, it now includes events coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network in more than 193 countries.

According to the organizing committee at the outset of the talks, [7] the expected key result was an agreement to set a goal of limiting global warming to "well below 2 °C" Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. The agreement calls for zero net anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to be reached during the second half of the 21st century. In the adopted version of the Paris Agreement, [3] the parties will also "pursue efforts to" limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C. [2] The 1.5 °C goal will require zero emissions sometime between 2030 and 2050, according to some scientists. [2]

Global warming Current rise in Earths average temperature and its effects

Global warming is the long-term rise in the average temperature of the Earth's climate system. It is a major aspect of current climate change, and has been demonstrated by direct temperature measurements and by measurements of various effects of the warming. The term commonly refers to the mainly human-caused increase in global surface temperatures and its projected continuation. In this context, the terms global warming and climate change are often used interchangeably, but climate change includes both global warming and its effects, such as changes in precipitation and impacts that differ by region. There were prehistoric periods of global warming, but observed changes since the mid-20th century have been much greater than those seen in previous records covering decades to thousands of years.

Celsius Scale and unit of measurement for temperature

The Celsius scale, also known as the centigrade scale, is a temperature scale used by the International System of Units (SI). As an SI derived unit, it is used worldwide. In the United States, the Bahamas, Belize, the Cayman Islands and Liberia however, Fahrenheit remains the preferred scale for everyday temperature measurement. The degree Celsius can refer to a specific temperature on the Celsius scale or a unit to indicate a difference between two temperatures or an uncertainty. It is named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius (1701–1744), who developed a similar temperature scale. Before being renamed to honor Anders Celsius in 1948, the unit was called centigrade, from the Latin centum, which means 100, and gradus, which means steps.

Greenhouse gas Gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range

A greenhouse gas is a gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range. Greenhouse gases cause the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone. Without greenhouse gases, the average temperature of Earth's surface would be about −18 °C (0 °F), rather than the present average of 15 °C (59 °F). The atmospheres of Venus, Mars and Titan also contain greenhouse gases.

Prior to the conference, 146 national climate panels publicly presented draft national climate contributions (called "Intended Nationally Determined Contributions", INDCs). These suggested commitments were estimated to limit global warming to 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100. [8] For example, the EU suggested INDC is a commitment to a 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to 1990. [9] The agreement establishes a "global stocktake" which revisits the national goals to "update and enhance" them every five years beginning 2023. [3] However, no detailed timetable or country-specific goals for emissions were incorporated into the Paris Agreement – as opposed to the previous Kyoto Protocol.

Kyoto Protocol international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty which extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that commits state parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the scientific consensus that (part one) global warming is occurring and (part two) it is extremely likely that human-made CO2 emissions have predominantly caused it. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. There are currently 192 parties (Canada withdrew from the protocol, effective December 2012) to the Protocol.

A number of meetings took place in preparation for COP21, including the Bonn Climate Change Conference, 19 to 23 October 2015, which produced a draft agreement. [10]

Bonn Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

The Federal City of Bonn is a city on the banks of the Rhine in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, with a population of over 300,000. About 24 km (15 mi) south-southeast of Cologne, Bonn is in the southernmost part of the Rhine-Ruhr region, Germany's largest metropolitan area, with over 11 million inhabitants. It is famously known as the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven in 1770. Beethoven spent his childhood and teenage years in Bonn.

Background

Global carbon dioxide emissions by country in 2015.

  China (29.5%)
  USA (14.3%)
  EU (9.6%)
  India (6.8%)
  Russia (4.9%)
  Japan (3.5%)
  Other (31.4%)
Shows the top 40 CO2 emitting countries and related in the world in 1990 and 2012, including per capita figures. The data is taken from the EU Edgar database. Co2-1990-2012.svg
Shows the top 40 CO2 emitting countries and related in the world in 1990 and 2012, including per capita figures. The data is taken from the EU Edgar database.

According to the organizing committee of the summit in Paris, the objective of the 2015 conference was to achieve, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. [11] Pope Francis published an encyclical called Laudato si' intended, in part, to influence the conference. The encyclical calls for action against climate change: " Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it." [12] The International Trade Union Confederation has called for the goal to be "zero carbon, zero poverty", and its general secretary Sharan Burrow has repeated that there are "no jobs on a dead planet".

Location and participation

The heads of delegations from left to right: Enrique Pena Nieto, Francois Hollande, Angela Merkel, Michelle Bachelet. JCH 6442 (22802505643).jpg
The heads of delegations from left to right: Enrique Peña Nieto, François Hollande, Angela Merkel, Michelle Bachelet.

The location of UNFCCC talks is rotated by regions throughout United Nations countries. The 2015 conference was held at Le Bourget from 30 November [13] to 11 December 2015.

To some extent, France served as a model country for delegates attending COP21 because it is one of the few developed countries in the world to decarbonize electricity production and fossil fuel energy while still providing a high standard of living. [14] As of 2012, France generated over 90% of its electricity from zero carbon sources, including nuclear, hydroelectric, and wind.

The conference took place two weeks after a series of terrorist attacks in central Paris. Security was tightened accordingly, with 30,000 police officers and 285 security checkpoints deployed across the country until after the conference ended. [15]

The European Union and 195 nations (see list in reference) [16] were the participating parties.

Negotiations

COP 21: Heads of delegations. GUSTAVO-CAMACHO-GONZALEZ-L1060274 (23430273715).jpg
COP 21: Heads of delegations.

The overarching goal of the Convention is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase. Since COP 17 this increase is set at 2 °C (3.6 °F) above pre-industrial levels. [17] However, Christiana Figueres acknowledged in the closing briefing at the 2012 Doha conference: "The current pledges under the second commitment period of the Kyoto protocol are clearly not enough to guarantee that the temperature will stay below 2 °C and there is an ever increasing gap between the action of countries and what the science tells us."

During previous climate negotiations, countries agreed to outline actions they intended to take within a global agreement, by 1 October 2015. These commitments are known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs. [18] Together, the INDCs would reduce global warming from an estimated 4–5 °C (by 2100) to 2.7 °C, and reduce emissions per capita by 9% by 2030, while providing hope in the eyes of the conference organizers for further reductions in the future that would allow meeting a 2 °C target. [19]

Think-tanks such as the World Pensions Council (WPC) argued that the keys to success lay in convincing officials in the U.S. and China, by far the two largest national emitters: "As long as policy makers in Washington and Beijing didn't put all their political capital behind the adoption of ambitious carbon-emission capping targets, the laudable efforts of other G20 governments often remained in the realm of pious wishes. Things changed for the better on 12 November 2014 when President Obama and General Secretary Xi Jinping agreed to limit greenhouse gases emissions." [20]

President Obama insisted on America's essential role in that regard: "We've led by example [...] from Alaska to the Gulf Coast to the Great Plains [...] we've seen the longest streak of private job creation in our history. We've driven our economic output to all time-highs while driving our carbon pollution down to its lowest level in nearly two decades. And then, with our historic joint announcement with China last year, we showed it was possible to bridge the old divide between developed and developing nations that had stymied global progress for so long [...] That was the foundation for success in Paris." [21]

Outcome

On 12 December 2015, the participating 196 countries agreed, by consensus, to the final [22] global pact, the Paris Agreement, to reduce emissions as part of the method for reducing greenhouse gas. In the 12-page document, [3] the members agreed to reduce their carbon output "as soon as possible" and to do their best to keep global warming "to well below 2 degrees C". [23] In the course of the debates, island states of the Pacific, the Seychelles, but also the Philippines, their very existence threatened by sea level rise, had strongly voted for setting a goal of 1.5 °C instead of only 2 °C. [24] [25] France's Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, said this "ambitious and balanced" plan was an "historic turning point" in the goal of reducing global warming. [26] However, some others criticized the fact that significant sections are "promises" or aims and not firm commitments by the countries. [27]

Non-binding commitments, lack of enforcement mechanisms

The Agreement will not become binding on its member states until 55 parties who produce over 55% of the world's greenhouse gas have ratified the Agreement. There is doubt whether some countries, especially the United States, [28] will agree to do so, though the United States publicly committed, in a joint Presidential Statement with China, to joining the Agreement in 2016. [2]

Each country that ratifies the agreement will be required to set a target for emission reduction or limitation, called a "nationally determined contribution," or "NDC," but the amount will be voluntary. [29] [30] There will be neither a mechanism to force [31] a country to set a target by a specific date nor enforcement measures if a set target is not met. [30] [32] There will be only a "name and shame" system [33] or, as János Pásztor, the U.N. assistant secretary-general on climate change, told CBS News, a "name and encourage" plan. [34]

Some analysts have also observed that the stated objectives of the Paris Agreement are implicitly "predicated upon an assumption – that member states of the United Nations, including high polluters such as China, US, India, Canada, Russia, Indonesia and Australia, which generate more than half the world's greenhouse gas emissions, will somehow drive down their carbon pollution voluntarily and assiduously without any binding enforcement mechanism to measure and control CO2 emissions at any level from factory to state, and without any specific penalty gradation or fiscal pressure (for example a carbon tax) to discourage bad behaviour." [35]

Institutional investors' contribution to limiting fossil fuels

Speaking at the 5th annual World Pensions Forum held on the sidelines of the COP21 Summit, Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs argued that institutional investors would eventually divest from carbon-reliant firms if they could not react to political and regulatory efforts to halt climate change: "Every energy company in a pension fund's portfolio needs to be scrutinized from purely a financial view about its future, 'Why is this [a company] we would want to hold over a five- to 20-year period?'... If we continue to hold major energy companies that don't have an answer to a basic financial test, we are just gambling. We have to take a fiduciary responsibility – these are not good bets." [36]

Some US policy makers concurred, notably Al Gore, insisting that "no agreement is perfect, and this one must be strengthened over time, but groups across every sector of society will now begin to reduce dangerous carbon pollution through the framework of this agreement." [37]

Declarations of non-state parties

Eiffel Tower illuminated in green in response to the One heart, One tree campaign -1heart1tree - Tour Eiffel a -Paris - Eiffel Tower - COP 21 (22779585433).jpg
Eiffel Tower illuminated in green in response to the One heart, One tree campaign

As is usual before such major conferences, major NGOs and groups of governments have drafted and published a wide variety of declarations they intend to seek a consensus on, at the Paris conference itself. These include at least the following major efforts:

Financing

Greenpeace activists, demanding 100% renewable energy at Climate March 2015 in Madrid. Greenpeace Climate March 2015 Madrid.jpg
Greenpeace activists, demanding 100% renewable energy at Climate March 2015 in Madrid.

The conference was budgeted to cost 170m (US$186.87m at the time). The French government said that 20% of the cost would be borne by French firms such as EDF, Engie (formerly known as GDF Suez), Air France, Renault-Nissan and BNP Paribas. [55]

Demonstrations

Around the world, 600,000 took part in demonstrations in favour of a strong agreement, such as the Global Climate March organized by 350.org (and other events such as Alternatiba, Village of Alternatives). Paris had a ban on public gatherings in the wake of recent terrorist attacks (state of emergency), but allowed thousands to demonstrate on 12 December against what they felt was a too-weak treaty. [56] There was also an illegal demonstration in Paris, including violent clashes between police and anarchists, ten policemen were injured and 317 people arrested . [57] [58]

See also

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