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Dhaka Tribune

Paris Agreement ready at COP21

Update : 12 Dec 2015, 07:36 PM

After a hectic overnight debate and discussion, the conference of parties (COP)21 yesterday produced a legally binding agreement, though deemed weak by many, to tackle the negative impacts of climate change in future.

According to the final version of the agreement, countries participating in the conference agreed to limit the world’s temperature by well below 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century from the pre-industrial period. And at the same time, the countries will try to check the temperature by 1.5 degrees Celsius.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and French President Hollande join in the celebrations. Photo: Reuters

As the text reads, emphasising with serious concern the urgent need to address the significant gap between the aggregate effect of Parties’ mitigation pledges in terms of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and aggregate emission pathways consistent with holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“We have come up with this ambition with the consensus of all parties here,” said contentious COP21 President Laurent Fabius yesterday noon at the plenary session, adding that the text of the agreement is a balanced and legally binding one.

Later in the day, the parties adopted the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and therefore, requested the UN secretary general to be the Depositary of the Agreement and to have it open for signature in New York from April 22, 2016-April 21, 2017.

The UN secretary general has also been invited to convene a high-level signature ceremony for the agreement on April 22 next year.

Responding to the final outcome of the climate change agreement, ActionAid Chief Executive Adriano Campolina said: “What we needed out of Paris was a deal which put the world’s poorest people first-those who are living with the constant threat of the next disaster. Yet, what we have been presented with does not go far enough to improve the fragile existence of millions around the world.

“The agreement will be effective, if at least 55 parties emitting 70% greenhouse gas emissions have signed and therefore ratify in their own countries legislative procedure.”

Bangladesh’s concern

The Paris conference has ended with an agreement which is true as the issues the developing states raised here are accommodated, said Fazle Rabbi Sadeque Ahmed, a negotiator from Bangladesh, adding “but the texting of the agreement is very tricky and weak.”

For instance, regarding finance the developing countries were long been awaited to see balance between adaptation and mitigation. The agreement also gave importance on that but using the word “should” ultimately weakened the terms, he added.

In case of finance, the text reads that the Agreement shall set a new collective quantified goal from a floor of $100 billion per year, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries, prior to 2015.

However, Dr Saleemul Huq, an adviser to the Least Developed Countries, said that the finance mechanism in the agreement is not clear as it did not say the exact source and circulation channel of the fund.

Regarding loss and damage, the agreement has given the importance on the issue by putting it in a separate article rather than including it in the “adaptation’’ article.

Saleemul, who is also the director of International Centre for Climate Change and Development, said that the issue came in the agreement as a separate chapter which is good for us but the provision of compensation and liabilities to loss and damage regarding climate change is absent which ultimately made the agreement weak.

“The LDCs, Small Island and Developing States (SIDS) and African countries agreed on this provision for the sake of a legally binding agreement as with the term ‘compensation and liability’ the agreement might not be ratified in the USA parliament,” he added.

The text reads: “The Parties agreed that Article 8 (Loss and Damage) of the agreement does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation.”

By accepting the clause, the developing countries like Bangladesh will not get any kind of compensation from the greenhouse gas emitters permanently, said Ziaul Haque Mukta, an observer of the COP21 from Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihood.

Fazle Rabbi said: “Now we are getting a legally binding agreement but maintaining the agreement totally depends on the Parties.”

Citing the example of Kyoto Protocol adopted in 1992, he said that the USA was one of the major parties of the protocol and finally it could not manage the ratification of the protocol in its parliament. At the same time, Canada withdrew itself out from the protocol.

The annual climate conference started on November 30 at Le Bouget in Paris and supposed to produce and adopt the Paris Agreement by December 11. But due to the disagreement on several issues among the Parties, the COP21 president finally extended the meeting until yesterday.

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