Green Cedar Lebanon Co-founder Pascale Choueiri Saad participated in the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 or CMP 11 that was held in Paris, France, from 30 November to 12 December 2015. It was the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties (CMP) to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
“We hope that the commitments to the planet made during COP21 will be respected when it will go into effect next year”. Said Choueiri in a press interview during the conference.
The Paris Agreement was certainly long-awaited, and France pulled out all the stops to ensure the success of the Paris Climate Conference. Never before had an issue brought together so many Heads of State and Government or involved so many national contributions. The Paris Agreement is historic and should help limit the increase in temperatures to 2 degrees overall and 1.5 degrees by the end of the century, with a clause introduced to review these commitments. France decided to take things even further by committing to revising its commitments by 2020 at the latest and will offer those countries that wish to follow its example the opportunity to form a coalition to set a carbon price that will help redirect investment.
The conference negotiated the Paris Agreement, a global agreement on the reduction of climate change, the text of which represented a consensus of the representatives of the 196 parties attending it. The agreement enters into force when joined by at least 55 countries which together represent at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the organizing committee at the outset of the talks, the expected key result was an agreement to set a goal of limiting global warming to “well below 2 °C” Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. The agreement calls for zero net anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to be reached during the second half of the 21st century. In the adopted version of the Paris Agreement, the parties will also “pursue efforts to” limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C. The 1.5 °C goal will require zero emissions sometime between 2030 and 2050, according to some scientists.
Prior to the conference, 146 national climate panels publicly presented draft national climate contributions (called “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions”, INDCs). These suggested commitments were estimated to limit global warming to 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100. For example, the EU suggested INDC is a commitment to a 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to 1990. The agreement establishes a “global stocktake” which revisits the national goals to “update and enhance” them every five years beginning 2023. However, no detailed timetable or country-specific goals for emissions were incorporated into the Paris Agreement – as opposed to the previous Kyoto Protocol.
The overarching goal of the Convention is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase. Since COP 17 this increase is set at 2 °C (3.6 °F) above pre-industrial levels. However, Christiana Figueres acknowledged in the closing briefing at the 2012 Doha conference: “The current pledges under the second commitment period of the Kyoto protocol are clearly not enough to guarantee that the temperature will stay below 2 °C and there is an ever-increasing gap between the action of countries and what the science tells us.”
During previous climate negotiations, countries agreed to outline actions they intended to take within a global agreement, by 1 October 2015. These commitments are known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs. Together, the INDCs would reduce global warming from an estimated 4–5 °C (by 2100) to 2.7 °C, and reduce emissions per capita by 9% by 2030, while providing hope in the eyes of the conference organizers for further reductions in the future that would allow meeting a 2 °C target.