Representatives of nearly 200 countries agreed Saturday to a landmark climate change agreement that would require each to join together in slowing the rate of global warming.
At 7:26 p.m. in Le Bourget, just outside of Paris, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced a consensus had been reached and closed the conference.
“History will remember this day,” said United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. “The Paris agreement on climate change is a monumental success for the planet and its people.”
The agreement aims to bind together commitments from each country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global temperatures to an increase of no more than 2 degrees Celsius, and no higher. A recent push to lower the target to 1.5 degrees Celsius led to inclusion of language mentioning that as an eventual goal.
The document now says that the nations intend to keep “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”
Controversy over the differing roles of developed and developing nations threatened to stall progress earlier in the talks. Representatives of 195 nations had gathered in the Paris suburb earlier this month to discuss how their governments could contribute to halting climate change, but many of those from developing countries feared their economies would suffer from an agreement.
That’s partly because previous climate accords have largely focused on reducing greenhouse emissions from major producers – developed economies like that of the United States’. The Paris talks included demands by leaders from many still-developing economies that their more industrialized counterparts contribute financially to helping them adapt to the challenges of climate change. The proposal to establish a fund of about $100 billion for this purpose did find its way into the final agreement but is not one of the legally binding provisions.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the agreement a “tremendous victory for all of our citizens” and “for all of the planet, and for future generations.”
Those involved with the talks clearly intend it to spark innovation among businesses to create new energy technologies.
“Markets now have the clear signal to unleash the full force of human ingenuity,” Ban Ki-moon said.