The goal of 1.5 C is a big leap below the 2C agreed six years ago in Copenhagen. Here is what the agreement means for global emissions and the future of the planet
Keeping temperature rises below 1.5C
Governments have agreed to limit warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels: something that would have seemed unthinkable just a few months ago.
There is a scientific rationale for the number. John Schellnhuber, a scientist who advises Germany and the Vatican, says 1.5C marks the point where there is a real danger of serious ‘tipping points’ in the world’s climate.
Pledges to curb emissions
Before the conference started, more than 180 countries had submitted pledges to cut or curb their carbon emissions (intended nationally defined contributions, or INDCs, in the UN jargon). These are not sufficient to prevent global temperatures from rising beyond 2C, in fact, it is thought they will lead to a 2.7C rise or higher.
The INDCs are recognised under the agreement, but are not legally binding.
Long-term global goal for net zero emissions
Countries have promised to try to bring global emissions down from peak levels as soon as possible.
More significantly, they pledged “to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century”.
Loss and damage
The deal includes loss and damage, a mechanism for addressing the financial losses vulnerable countries face from climate impacts such as extreme weather.
But it also includes a clause that will keep the US happy – that it will face financial claims from vulnerable countries hit by climate change: it “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation”.
Finance to help developing countries adapt to climate change and transition to clean energy was an important sticking point in the negotiations.
This part of the deal has been moved into the non-legally binding “decision text”.
The draft text says that the countries “intend to continue their existing collective mobilisation goal through 2025”.
That means the flow of $100billion (£66billion) a year will continue beyond 2020.
By 2025 the draft agreement undertakes to improve on that “from a floor of $100billion”.—The Guardian.