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Nearly 200 countries commit to climate change action in Paris

17 December, 2015

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Countries from all over the world have reached an agreement concerning combined efforts to curb climate change by limiting greenhouse gas emissions.  The agreement came in two parts: firstly to limit temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius and, secondly, to hold governments to account for reaching that target.

Developed countries agreed to raise $100b (USD) a year by 2020 to help developing countries transform their economies in expectation of climate change effects. Countries will also be legally required to meet every five years, starting in 2023, to report on their efforts to reduce emissions.

The deal also sends a clear message to business leaders to help trigger a shift away from fossil fuels and motivate further investments in renewable energy. The International Investors Group on Climate Change, a network managing £13tn of assets, said “Investors across Europe will now have the confidence to do much more to address the risks arising from high carbon assets and to seek opportunities linked to the low carbon transition already transforming the world’s energy system and infrastructure.”

“This is truly a historic moment,” the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said in an interview. “For the first time, we have a truly universal agreement on climate change, one of the most crucial problems on earth.”

The deal isn’t without criticism. Scientists who have analysed the deal say it will cut emissions by half of what is needed to prevent a 2 degree increase in global temperatures, the point at which studies have concluded the world will face significant sea level rise, an increase in extreme weather patterns and widespread food and water shortages.

However, at the same time, the combined efforts of world leaders, who had spent the last few weeks in Paris reaching this agreement, can be said to signal a fundamental shift in combating climate change. It has taken 20 years to reach this point and while it might not be the final solution needed, none can argue it is at least a few steps in the right direction.

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