Top of the COPs

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

Paris, France (COP 21) Nov. 30 – Dec 11, 2015

Focus: COP 21, the 2015 Paris Climate Conference was the first COP to reach a legally binding, universal agreement on climate change with the goal of keeping average global temperatures below a 2 C increase from preindustrial levels.

Outcome: The first legally binding treaty on climate action in history was adopted at COP 21 by 195 countries and the European Union, signalling a level global consensus on the issue of climate change. The agreement includes commitment from 195 countries and the European Union to reduce their GHG emissions. Member countries are required to enact review processes and set new emission targets every 5 years, although meeting the targets is not legally binding. The Paris Agreement seeks to meet the goal of GHG neutrality between 2050 and 2100.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][mk_image src=”” image_width=”600″ image_height=”600″ crop=”true” lightbox=”false” frame_style=”simple” target=”_self” caption_location=”inside-image” align=”left” margin_bottom=”10″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

In addition to the formal treaty, COP21 saw numerous commitments to additional actions on climate change mitigation and adaptation by countries, sub-national territories, municipalities, investors and corporations.

Challenges:  Negotiations ran overtime as members negotiated specific wording in the final COP 21 document. One of the major points of impasse in the negotiations focused on financing. The support of developed and wealthy nations, responsible for the vast majority of carbon emissions, is necessary for poorer nations to not only implement renewable energy technology but to survive environmental changes resulting from accelerating climate change. These costs, in the hundreds of billions of dollars, present a real global challenge. In negotiations, developing nations expressed concern that contributions from wealthy nations on were not legally binding, with $100 billion committed informally. While an amount is not specified in the final document, it does oblige developed nations to contribute more climate finance for poorer nations. Ultimately, agreed upon wording emphasized that each member’s commitments to the fight against climate change should evolve as their capacity does.

Despite the historic agreement, some experts have voiced concern that the pledges and commitments made at COP 21 are not enough to limit global warming to 2 C, let alone to stop at 1.5 C.

Like the 1997 Kyoto Accord, the Paris Agreement will take effect once it is ratified by at least 55 countries representing 55 per cent of global GHG emissions.

Canada’s Role: “Canada is back,” announced newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the opening day of the meetings. Canada had a large delegation that included strong representation from the federal government as well as Indigenous leaders, provincial and territorial premiers and municipal representatives.

Canada’s new federal government emerged as a strong advocate for climate goals at the meetings, pushing for action to keep global temperature rise under 1.5 C. They also advocated for the inclusion of Indigenous rights in the climate agreement, a move that was resisted by the U.S. and the European Union who expressed concern about liability. Ultimately, no legally binding language on Indigenous rights appeared in the final agreement.

For a snapshot of key energy decisions and commitments made at COP 21, click here for Energy Exchange’s infographic.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

– Katie Ungard

[/vc_column_text][mk_padding_divider size=”40″][mk_button dimension=”three” size=”large” outline_skin=”dark” outline_active_color=”#fff” outline_hover_color=”#333333″ bg_color=”#13bdd2″ text_color=”light” url=”/resources/energy-exchange-magazine/issue-5/” target=”_self” align=”left” fullwidth=”true” margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”15″ animation=”scale-up”]

Read more stories from the Winter 2016 issue of Energy Exchange magazine