By Emily Gosden, The Telegraph
The final text of the climate change draft agreement has been released – but what does it all mean?
Also View the final documents here: Paris Climate Agreement
Here are the key elements of the divisive proposed deal, which has been both hailed as “the end of the fossil fuel era” and condemned as a disaster since the final draft was released on Saturday afternoon.
1. A long-term goal to limit global warming to 2C, or 1.5C if possible
The agreement aims to limit the increase in global average temperatures to “well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels” – the level beyond which scientists say we will see the worst extremes of global warming.
It also aims to “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”.
In order to actually limit warming to that level, the aim is to “achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century” – in other words, net carbon emissions to be zero.
To get there, countries should aim to “reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science”.
2. National pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the 2020s
Ahead of (and even during) the Paris summit, countries have made so-called “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs) – pledges setting out how they plan to limit their greenhouse gas emissions during the 2020s.
Some 158 submissions covering 185 countries (the European Union submits one pledge covering all its member states) and covering more than 90 per cent of global emissions were made. These were not up for negotiation during the talks.
These pledges will become Nationally Determined Contributions at the time each country ratifies the agreement and the proposed deal commits countries to “pursue domestic mitigation measures with the aim of achieving the objectives”.
3. A plan to make countries pledge deeper emissions cuts in future, improving their plans every five years
The emissions cuts pledges made so far still leave the world on track for at least 2.7C warming this century. A key part of the deal is therefore the mechanism designed to make countries pledge deeper emissions cuts in future.
The non-binding decision text asks countries to come back before 2020 and to revisit the pledges they have made, and to then make new pledges every five years thereafter.
The binding deal – covering the period after 2020 – also commits countries to “communicate a nationally determined contribution every five years”.
Each country’s pledge must “represent a progression” on their previous one “and reflect its highest possible ambition”.
4. Rich nations to provide funding to poorer ones – ‘mobilising’ $100bn a year until 2025, and more thereafter
The agreement requires that “developed” nations – as defined by the UN Framework in 1992 – will continue to help developing countries with the costs of going green, and the costs of coping with the effects of climate change.
The thorny question of how much money rich nations must give has now been moved into the non-legally binding ‘decision text’. Currently, developed countries are obliged to ‘mobilise’ $100bn a year of public and private finance to help developing countries by 2020 – a target set in Copenhagen in 2009.
The draft Paris decision says they “intend to continue their existing collective mobilization goal through 2025” – in other words continue the $100bn a year, and then by 2025 set a new goal “from a floor of $100bn”.
Finance has been one of the biggest rows of the talks, with developing nations demanding more cash (and arguing that developed nations haven’t even met their $100bn pledge). Although many poorer countries wanted increased finance to be a legally-binding requirement, the US made it clear it would never ratify such a deal.
Developed nations meanwhile have been arguing for an end to the crude 1992 definition – which sees six of the 10 wealthiest counties in the world classed as “developing” and under no obligation to contribute.
They were pushing for a wording suggesting other countries “in a position to do so” should also contribute (especially as some, such as China, already are in practice). But developing nations resisted this wording and in the final agreement there is a much weaker commitment that non-developed nations are “encouraged to provide or continue to provide such support voluntarily”.
5. A plan to monitor progress and hold countries to account
There is to be a global “stock-take” in 2023, and every five years thereafter, to assess progress toward the aims of the agreement and to encourage countries to make deeper pledges (see point 3).
The text sets out plans for a new transparency framework to see whether countries are actually carrying out their pledges, in order to hold them account and inform the stocktake.
Countries will have to disclose an inventory of their emissions and information to track their progress in hitting their national target, while developed countries should also give information on the finance they are providing or mobilising.
This will be subject to a “technical expert review” to check their progress and highlight areas where improvement is needed.
However, the whole transparency framework will have “built-in flexibility” offering leeway to developing countries “that need it in the light of their capacities”.