An “ambitious and balanced” deal on climate change will limit warming this century to “well below” 2C, according to France’s foreign minister, Sky News reports. Laurent Fabius said the accord negotiated at United Nations talks in Paris would be a “historic turning point” if it is adopted by the delegates from more than 190 nations.
He added: “The world is holding its breath, it’s counting on all of us.” As well as the 2C target, the deal, which would be legally binding and is meant to take effect in 2020, includes a commitment to strive towards limiting increases to 1.5C by 2100. The countries most vulnerable to climate change had lobbied for a 1.5C limit, while big polluters such as China, India and Saudi Arabia preferred 2C.
The draft agreement also includes a five-year review system to increase ambition and differentiation between nations as to what their responsibilities are. With 2015 forecast to be the hottest year on record, world leaders and scientists have warned a deal on limiting greenhouse gases is vital for capping temperatures and avoiding the consequences of a changing climate.
The 31-page text has been published online and presented to international negotiators, who will review the draft in the coming hours. It sets a global goal of peaking global greenhouse gas emissions “as soon as possible” and calls for achieving a balance between man-made emissions and the Earth’s ability to absorb them by the second half of the century.
A section on “loss and damage” is also included, an issue that was pushed by small island nations and other vulnerable countries who wanted the agreement to recognise that there are some impacts of climate change they cannot adapt to. Organisers are hoping the accord will be adopted later on Saturday, but objections could still be raised at a full meeting of the conference.
If the deal is adopted it will be the world’s first comprehensive climate agreement with all countries taking action to tackle global warming. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made an impassioned plea to the diplomats charged with negotiating the deal. “The whole world is watching. Billions of people are relying on your wisdom,” he said.
French President Francois Hollande echoed Mr Ban’s comments, calling on nations to adopt “the first universal agreement on climate”. US Secretary of State John Kerry said he believes it is “teed up” to be adopted. He said: “It should be good but we’ll see. Little things can happen but we think it’s teed up.” Lord Stern, a former government advisor on climate change, hailed the deal, describing it as a “turning point”.
“This Agreement, together with the (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, should allow countries to overcome both climate change and poverty, the two defining challenges of our generation,” he said. “Now is the time for us to seize the opportunity of a brighter, low-carbon and climate-resilient future.” But protesters from environmental and human rights groups gathered near the Eiffel Tower to denounce the accord as insufficient.
Thomas Coutrot of advocacy group Attac said it is an optical illusion that “masks” a lack of serious changes like abandoning oil altogether.