Agreement will be legally binding and aims to keep global warming ‘well below’ 2 degrees

PARIS (France) –  Nearly 200 countries have adopted the first global pact to fight climate change by reducing emissions.

Countries will have to publish greenhouse gas reduction targets and revise them upward every five years, while striving to drive down their carbon output “as soon as possible,” under an ambitious climate-change pact announced Saturday morning at UN talks in Paris.

The draft Paris climate agreement represents “the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era”, according to Kumi Naidoo, executive director at GreenpeaceInternational.

“We’re not out of the hole yet, but there are enough hooks in there to help us get out of it,” he said.

“The wheel of climate action turns slowly, but in Paris it has turned, and put the fossil fuel industry on the wrong side of history,” he told a press briefing, saying it would “cause consternation” in oil and coal company boardrooms and “the palaces of oil-producing states”.

Here are the main points of the climate deal:

  • An aim to keep global mean temperature within 1.5°C of that which existed before the industrial era. This is a more ambitious goal that the 2°C goal that nearly 200 governments agreed upon six years ago.
  • A check-in every five years, to take stock of how countries are doing on their individual climate plans, which will come into effect in 2020. The first check-in will happen in 2023.
  • A “loss and damage” clause that will allow vulnerable countries to claim compensation for financial losses due to climate change.
French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius (C), President-designate of COP21 and Christiana Figueres (L), Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, hold hands as they react during the final plenary session at the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 12, 2015.     REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius (C), President-designate of COP21 and Christiana Figueres (L), Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, hold hands as they react during the final plenary session at the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 12, 2015. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Jennifer Morgan, Global Director of the Climate Program at the World Resources Institute said in a statement:

“This agreement would mark a true turning point in the global effort to address climate change. The text reflects both the push for high ambition and the voices of the most vulnerable. It accelerates the energy transformation that is well underway, pointing us to a safer and stronger future.”

But many still are skeptical of the advances made by leaders in Paris, highlighting that the text includes hard commitments. A spokesperson for international charity Oxfam said in a statement:

“This deal offers a frayed life-line to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Only the vague promise of a new future climate funding target has been made, while the deal does not force countries to cut emissions fast enough to forestall a climate change catastrophe.”

hree environmentalists wear polar bear costumes as they take part in a demonstration near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, as the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) on Saturday. Photograph: Reuters

Here is the full text of the agreement.