After two weeks, and just a day late, the COP21 climate summit produced a historic agreement. It attempts to keep global temperatures "well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels".
To achieve this a rapid decarbonisation of the global economy must start immediately.
Centre director Johan Rockström describes the agreement as a turning point.
"This sends the signal to the global economy that decarbonisation starts today. The Global Carbon Project’s carbon budget published during the conference gives the first sign that this is underway."
Centre partner Future Earth’s Global Carbon Project published the global carbon budget on 7 December at another major press conference. Remarkably, the researchers announced carbon emissions grew just 0.6% in 2014 and are predicted to fall slightly in 2015 (-0.6%) - the first time emissions have stalled during a period of global economic growth. The scientists warn this hiatus may not last long as India and elsewhere industrialise rapidly.
Rockström belives the penny has dropped for many, particularly since the last climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009.
"We are starting to see that sustainable solutions not only exist but they are also adaptable and deliverable on various levels in society as a whole."
For any change of limiting the temperature increase 1.5 °C Rockström argues that the richest nations such as the EU, US, Australia and other oecd countries must lead the way to zero fossil fuel use by 2030.
Agreement in line with Earth Statement
In advance of COP21, the Earth League, a network of leading institutions working to respond to some of the most pressing environmental issues published the Earth Statement. Lead by Johan Rockström, the statement was a scientific assessment of the key elements required for a climate agreement to meet the goal of reducing the risk of crossing the 2°C threshold. The Paris agreement reflects most of the elements within the Earth Statement.
Here is a summary of the agreement:
UNFCCC believes agreement captures essential elements to drive action forward
The Paris Agreement and the outcomes of the UN climate conference (COP21) cover all the crucial areas identified as essential for a landmark conclusion:
Mitigation – reducing emissions fast enough to achieve the temperature goal
A transparency system and global stock-take – accounting for climate action
Adaptation – strengthening ability of countries to deal with climate impacts
Loss and damage – strengthening ability to recover from climate impacts
Support – including finance, for nations to build clean, resilient futures
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