Paris Agreement Passes: What’s Next?

Even Pope Francis approved of the Paris Agreement, which passed muster with delegates from nearly 200 countries on Sunday. After five sets of negotiations this year and two full weeks of debate in Paris, the agreement set a world goal of limiting rising temperatures to within 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, through 2100. So what happens now?

The Paris Agreement pledges financial support through 2020 from developed countries to developing nations to help fight the immediate effects of climate change–specifically rising sea levels. Developing economies are typically dependent on fossil fuels like oil and coal most to blame for the rise in greenhouse gases.

The agreement doesn’t spell out aid commitments after 2020. And although the limit is set to 2 degrees, the more ambitious 1.5 degree limit is still being sought by some, especially the small island nations most at risk.

Called a “historical turning point” by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the conference’s president, and “a rare opportunity to change the world” by French President Francois Hollande, environmentalists like Tasneem Essop of World Wide Fund for Nature cautioned that “What we need now is for their actions, including emission reductions and finance, to add up to delivering on that goal.”

Ratification requires the approval of at least 55 countries before 2020.

 

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