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.