COP21 agreement drafted and released

By Lauren Davis
Thursday, 10 December, 2015

For those of us eagerly awaiting the outcome of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21), the release of a newly drafted agreement will provide a fascinating insight into how discussions are progressing.

According to the chief councillor of the Climate Council, Professor Tim Flannery, the majority of countries attending COP21 are “pushing for a strong agreement to tackle climate change”, with many seeking an agreement that keeps temperature rise below 1.5°C — including Australia.

As such, the draft “sets out the elements of what could be a strong agreement” that will be regularly reviewed, according to Professor Flannery. The draft envisages a five-year review and a stocktake at 2018.

“It is critical that the agreement can be ratcheted up over time to strengthen countries’ action,” said Professor Flannery. “This is particularly true of Australia, which has weak emission reduction targets.”

Australian Greens leader Richard Di Natale confirmed that the overall target of the agreement will be based on limiting global warming to 2°C, though a general reference to 1.5°C is “still in play”.

Other highlights of the agreement include:

  • an IPCC report in 2018 on the impacts of a 1.5°C temperature rise on the climate, and recommendations on measures to reach this target;
  • more rigorous five yearly reporting (as of 2023–24);
  • the imperative for nations to set a deadline to totally decarbonise their economies;
  • the need for adaptation to global warming.

The major stumbling block in the agreement, said Senator Di Natale, surrounds compensation to poor countries for the impacts of climate change, as well as how to help these countries develop without increasing their emissions.

“We’re still seeing substantial disagreements between rich and poor countries over whether finance is allowed to come from the domestic aid budgets of rich countries, as well as how much countries are required to contribute and what financial commitments they’ll be obliged to make after 2020,” he said.

Senator Di Natale ultimately concluded that the draft “sets the basis for a constructive global agreement… [but] will have to be treated as a starting point”.

“Far more work will be needed to seriously scale up ambition and action over coming years,” said Senator Di Natale, claiming that the agreement “looks set to fall well short of what’s ultimately required to avoid catastrophic global warming”.

The draft agreement can be viewed here.

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