COP 21 – The conference of the parties – Outcomes

Framework

On November 30th – December 11th world leaders from 150 countries joined to set out a parent agreement to the Kyoto protocol of which ended in 2012, to reduce the negative effects of 150 years of industrial work on the earth and climate, over the next 30 years. The 2015 drafted agreement will be approved and further implemented in 2020 aiming to make changes by 2030 – 2050 at the latest.

The conventions took into account the ‘Ababa Action Agenda of the third International Conference on Financing for Development’ and ‘the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction’ and also considers  many other factors that are not usually seen as directly linking to climate issues, such as equality between sexes and races, fair payment for fair work etc.

The goals put forward by each country are “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs) and will not be legally binding; unfortunately this means that there are a lot of holes to be picked in the agreement; such as there is no explanation for how changes will be measured and how countries will be punished if the agreement is violated.

Many agree that this is our best chance to save the world that we live in.

Main Goals

Some of the main goals that have been set out by the EU are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80%-95% by 2050 when compared to levels in 1990; another of the major outcomes in targets for the future was for the global temperature to be kept under 2 degrees, however the pressure for this to happen sooner rather later is becoming increasingly evident; the UK Met Office claims that “Should emissions peak in 2016, to limit warming to 2 °C with a 50% probability will require emissions reductions of approximately 4% per year. But should emissions peak later in 2020, to achieve the same temperature target will require a faster rate of emissions reductions of almost 6% per year.” Therefore showing that changes need to be made prior to 2020; meetings will be held in 2018 to review the agreement and to set further targets, many hope that this will be an affirmation of the previous mentioned decision to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees and also that politicians will take the agreement a step further.

George Monbiot from the Guardian claims that ‘By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster’

The agreement puts a lot of emphasis on eradicating the use of fossil fuels and replacing these with renewable energy sources, whilst this in itself is a huge step forward, many agree that political leaders have not taken this into account the and that the full impacts of further industrial practice, with investments in activities like coal mining and fracking are still continuing; for instance the UK ‘is the only G7 country to be actively expanding fossil fuel subsidies’.

An overview of some of the main issues covered by the conference:

Energy

‘The 2030 climate and energy framework sets three key targets for the year 2030:

  • At least 40% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions(from 1990 levels)
  • At least 27% share for renewable energy
  • At least 27% improvement in energy efficiency’

Emissions

‘The framework contains a binding target to cut emissions in EU territory by at least 40%below 1990 levels by 2030.

This will enable the EU to:

  • take cost-effective steps towards its long-term objective of cutting emissions by 80-95% by 2050 in the context of necessary reductions by developed countries as a group,
  • make a fair and ambitious contribution to the new international climate agreement,to take effect in 2020.

To achieve the at least 40% target:

Renewables

‘The framework sets a binding target at EU level to boost the share of renewables to at least 27% of EU energy consumption by 2030’

Efficiency

‘On the basis of the Energy Efficiency Directive, the European Council has endorsed an indicative energy savings target of 27% by 2030.

This target will be reviewed in 2020 having in mind a 30% target.’

Necessary Investments

  • ‘Average annual additional investmentsare projected to amount to €38 billion for the EU as a whole over the period 2011-30
  • Fuel savingswill to a large extent compensate for these
  • More than half of the investments are needed in the residential and tertiary sectors
  • Lower-income countries need to make relatively larger efforts compared to GDP – but European Council conclusions address distribution and include measures to enhance fairness and solidarity while ensuring overall efficiency.’

Problems

Some bodies present at the conferences, have told that one of their worries is whether countries which have had none or barely any part in affecting global warming, will be compensated by those who have; due to this there has been a call to raise $100billion per year as compensation for these countries, however the proposal was met with mixed attitudes. The ‘publication on 7 October of the climate finance report by the OECD and the think tank Climate Policy Initiative’ reported that ‘$62 billion were raised in 2014 by developed countries to help developing countries cope with climate change’ showing that ‘the commitment made by developed countries in Copenhagen in 2009 to raise $100 billion per year by 2020 is within reach’.

Outcomes

Since 2005 some influential groups have formed to put the pressure on the government to stick to promises, including 350.org which is an organisation that aims to ensure that the promises made at the climate conferences are kept, C40, which was put together to network major cities and by doing so enabled cities to work together to reduce negative impacts on climate, others include Friends of the Earth, People and Planet, Collectively.org The National Union of Students, Greenpeace and many other.

Some Conclusions

The European Commission claims that one of the conclusions of the 2050 cop21 analysis were that ‘Early infrastructure investments cost less and much of the infrastructure in the EU built 30 to 40 years ago needs to be replaced anyway. Immediately replacing it with low-carbon alternatives can avoid more costly changes in the future’

A 1 degree rise in temperature increases the chance of storms, drought and wildfires; therefore if the target to keep global warming below 2 degrees is not kept and not implemented at the earliest possible chance, the world could see dramatic changes, especially effecting those in developing countries. World leaders who partook in the conferences must ensure they stick to these targets; as previously explained, there is little time to implement change. We agree with George Monbiot that the steps that have been taken so far, in light of previous years have been a miracle, however in order to be 100% effective there must be continued pressure from people and groups on the ground such as those above to make sure that world leaders pursue better technologies for renewable energy sources.

 

Extra Information

The agreement can be found in this document: http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09r01.pdf

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC  http://newsroom.unfccc.int/cop21parisinformationhub/

You can view the filmed conference here: http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop21/

You can find full documentation by following the links below:

http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/international/negotiations/future/documentation_en.htm

http://www.cop21.gouv.fr/en/learn/what-is-cop21/

Some Figures taken from the European Commission, Climate Action page find more info here: http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/strategies/2030/index_en.htm

 

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