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COP21: World awaits backing for climate change deal

Published 12/12/2015

The slogan
The slogan "For the planet" is projected on the Eiffel Tower as part of the COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (AP)
French President Francois Hollande (L), French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (C) and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrive for a statement at the COP21 Climate Conference in Le Bourget, north of Paris, on December 12, 2015. AFP/Getty Images
French President Francois Hollande (2ndL) and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (2ndR) attend the COP21 Climate Conference in Le Bourget, north of Paris, on December 12, 2015. The years-long quest for a universal pact to avert catastrophic climate change neared the finish line today with conference host France announcing that the final draft had been completed in the early hours of the morning. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINAMIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images
US Secretary of State John Kerry (C) arrives at the COP21 Climate Conference in Le Bourget, north of Paris, on December 12, 2015. The years-long quest for a universal pact to avert catastrophic climate change neared the finish line today with conference host France announcing that the final draft had been completed in the early hours of the morning. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINAMIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images
US Secretary of State John Kerry (C) arrives at the COP21 Climate Conference in Le Bourget, north of Paris, on December 12, 2015. The years-long quest for a universal pact to avert catastrophic climate change neared the finish line today with conference host France announcing that the final draft had been completed in the early hours of the morning. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINAMIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images
People attend a concert for the Planet, held on the last day of COP21, on December 11, 2015 at the Obelisque square in Dakar. / AFP / SEYLLOUSEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
People attend a concert for the Planet, held on the last day of COP21, on December 11, 2015 at the Obelisque square in Dakar. / AFP / SEYLLOUSEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images

The international climate deal on the table for countries to approve signals the end of the fossil fuel era, it has been claimed.

The final draft of the agreement has received a largely positive response from environmental and aid campaigners, experts and analysts, who said it marks a turning point in history.

Emma Ruby-Sachs, acting executive director of campaign group Avaaz, said: "If agreed, this deal will represent a turning point in history, paving the way for the shift to 100% clean energy that the world wants and the planet needs."

Michael Jacobs, senior adviser for the New Climate Economy project, and former adviser to Gordon Brown, also described it as a historic turning point.

"Historians will see this as the turning point: the moment when the world started shifting decisively away from fossil fuels and towards clean and safe energy systems.

"Remarkably this effectively signals the end of the fossil fuel era. This is unquestionably a great success. But the work really starts now. These commitments now need to turn into policy, and policy into investment."

Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International, which campaigns strongly against fossil fuel expansion, went further, saying: "The wheel of climate action turns slowly, but in Paris it has turned. This deal puts the fossil fuel industry on the wrong side of history.

"There's much in the text that has been diluted and polluted by the people who despoil our planet, but it contains a new imperative to limit temperature rises to 1.5C.

"That single number, and the new goal of net zero emissions by the second half of this century, will cause consternation in the boardrooms of coal companies and the palaces of oil-exporting states."

Anthony Hobley, chief executive of the analyst Carbon Tracker Initiative, said the deal sends a strong signal that will accelerate the low-carbon transition already under way.

Aid agencies also gave the deal a cautious welcome.

Neil Thorns, from Cafod, said: "For poor people living on the front line of climate change, this deal offers hope for a brighter future, but not yet the security that we'll get there quick enough.

Oxfam said the agreement would offer a "frayed lifeline" to the world's poorest and most vulnerable people, but warned measures to ensure predictable flows of finance to developing countries to help them deal with climate change had been dropped.

Matt Cullen, head of strategy at the Association of British Insurers, described the deal as "a great achievement for international co-operation, and called for it to be ratified and to result in meaningful action around the world.

Prof Corinne Le Quere, professor of climate change science and policy at the University of East Anglia and director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said: "The final draft text recognises the imperatives of the science community to tackle climate change.

"The three key elements to do it are there in some form: keep warming well below 2C, practically move away from fossil fuels, and review each country's contribution every five years so they scale up to the challenge.

"The emissions cuts promised by countries now are still wholly insufficient, but the agreement as a whole sends a strong message to businesses, investors and citizens that new energy is clean and fossil fuels belong to the past. There is a lot of work ahead of us to make this happen."

ActionAid chief executive Adriano Campolina said the deal is missing "real and concrete commitments", but he added that Paris is only the beginning of the journey.

"As climate change continues to worsen and affect millions more, people are beginning to demand more from their governments and ask for the transformative change to secure homes, jobs and futures.

"We already have the practical solutions to climate change, we now just need them to be scaled up with adequate support," he said.

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