On Saturday December 12 2015, a landmark commitment has been reached by representatives from 195 countries to take strong measures to cut carbon emissions and minimize the impacts of climate change. The key components of this climate deal, a 31-page document that is the first one of its kind, are highlighted as follows:
- The climate pact calls for limiting the increase in the global average temperature to just under 2 degrees Celsius above what average temperatures were during pre-industrial era. Currently, conclusions from climate scientists suggest that an increase in atmospheric temperatures of more than 2 degrees Celsius would result in catastrophic impacts, including devastating floods, food and water shortages and more powerful storms.
- Also stated in the pact is that, countries should reach global peaking of GHGs as soon as possible. The pact recognizes that peaking will take longer for developing country parties; therefore, it states that those parties undertake rapid reductions after peaking.
- The agreement points out the vitality of minimizing and addressing the anticipated damages associated with climate change. This affects countries that suffer the most from frequent extreme weather events and long-term impacts.
- The deal requires all 195 countries to update and submit their plans to cut GHGs by 2020 and on a five year basis thereafter. The deal also requires a follow-up to assess how countries are doing in meeting their updated goals-starting in 2023 and also on a five year basis thereafter.
- The agreement highlights a global standard system to monitor and report GHG emissions. In the past, developing countries, including China and India, had advocated for two separate metrics to account GHG emissions.
- The deal points to establishing climate-related financing, whereby the 195 would collectively commit to at least $100 billion dollars on an annual basis.
(Source: Sewell Chan, The New York Times)