Following two weeks of negotiations among representatives from 195 countries in Paris, France, the 21st Conference of Parties reached an agreement on a new climate accord. The accord limits average global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures and sets targets an ultimate limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius in the long-term. However, the accord leaves considerable gaps in execution, failing to fix individual, country-level responsibilities, opting instead for a “nationally determined contribution” model which requires each state to set its own targets and concrete plans for achieving them. The plans will be developed iteratively with slowly increasing pledges and, beginning in 2018, countries will be required to submit new plans every five years.

While the accord marks a significant achievement in the course of global efforts to combat climate change, a marked improvement over the failure of the last such summit in 2009, it has, nonetheless, met with notable criticism. The accord also fails to instate effective counter measures for countries that fail to meet their set goals, establishing a new expert committee with no specific authority to punish violators, simply mandated to “facilitate implementation” and “promote compliance”.

The accord also promises to expand low-carbon markets as countries and other businesses seek new solutions and products from providers in the energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other sustainability related fields. This demand is likely to also attract new talent and increased government funding to the industries and their development of new innovative solutions.

Source: New York Times article 

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