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Nations agree to cut greenhouse gas emissions in historic Paris deal


carbon_emissions• $100m voted to fight impact in Africa

THERE is celebration across the world over decisions reached at the just concluded Climate Change Summit in Paris where $100m was voted to fight the effects of climate change in Africa.

Against the backdrop of a remarkable groundswell of action by cities and regions, business and civil society, the Conference of the Parties (COP) – 195 nations, including Nigeria- reached a historic agreement, which will combat climate change, unleash actions and investment towards a low carbon, resilient and sustainable future.

The universal agreement’s main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The 1.5 degree Celsius limit is a significantly safer defense line against the worst impacts of a changing climate.

The agreement for the first time, brings all nations into a common cause based on their historic, current and future responsibilities.

For instance, all countries will submit adaptation communications, in which they may detail their adaptation priorities, support needs and plans. Developing countries will receive increased support for adaptation actions and the adequacy of this support will be assessed.

Essentially, the Paris agreement will be deposited at the United Nations in New York and be opened for one year for signature on April 22,  2016 (Mother Earth Day). The agreement will enter into force after 55 countries that account for at least 55 per cent of global emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification.

Under the agreement, countries will submit updated climate plans – called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – every five years, thereby steadily increasing their ambition in the long-term.  The new agreement also establishes the principle that future national plans will be no less ambitious than existing ones.

Climate action will also be taken forward in the period before 2020. Countries will continue to engage in a process on mitigation opportunities and will put added focus on adaptation opportunities. Additionally, they will work to define a clear roadmap on ratcheting up climate finance to $100 billion by 2020 while also before 2025 setting a new goal on the provision of finance from the $100 billion floor.

Similarly, the Paris agreement underwrites adequate support to developing nations, establishes a global goal to significantly strengthen adaptation to climate change through support and international cooperation.

The already broad and ambitious efforts of developing countries to build their own clean, climate-resilient futures will be supported by scaled-up finance from developed countries and voluntary contributions from other countries.

The agreement includes a global stocktake starting in 2023 to assess the collective progress towards the goals of the agreement. The stocktake will be done every five years. The agreement includes a compliance mechanism, overseen by a committee of experts that operates in a non-punitive.

“You’ve done it, reached an ambitious agreement, a binding agreement, a universal agreement. Never will I be able to express more gratitude to a conference. You can be proud to stand before your children and grandchildren, according to French President Francois Hollande.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: “We have entered a new era of global cooperation on one of the most complex issues ever to confront humanity. For the first time, every country in the world has pledged to curb emissions, strengthen resilience and join in common cause to take common climate action. This is a resounding success for multilateralism.”

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said: “One planet, one chance to get it right and we did it in Paris. We have made history together. It is an agreement of conviction. It is an agreement of solidarity with the most vulnerable. It is an agreement of long-term vision, for we have to turn this agreement into an engine of safe growth” Ms Figueres said.

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