Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

5 Things You Need to Know About the Upcoming Paris Climate Talks

Published on November 17, 2015 by   ·   No Comments

 

Paris COP21

Christine Ottery and Ruth Davis | Eco Watch

1) What is COP21?

Between Nov. 30 and Dec. 11 politicians and global leaders from more than 190 countries will be involved in the United Nations 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21). They’re meeting in Paris to try and agree on a global legally binding climate treaty.

Related Article: Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela Agree To Defend Mother Earth at Climate Change Conference

2) Why is it important?

The goal of the talks are to agree on a plan that will avoid the worst impacts of climate change, such as more severe droughts, floods and storms. In practice, that means getting us on track to keep global warming below 2C—this is the agreed threshold that we must not let the planet’s warming exceed if we are to avoid catastrophic effects of climate change.

Some nations are already feeling the impacts of climate change even now, at the current level of just under 1C of warming on average. There are already people being officially called climate refugees, and conflicts exacerbated by climate change and extreme weather caused by climate change is on the increase. COP21 is also about supporting vulnerable countries and communities in adapting to the impacts of climate change that are happening right now.

Some nations, including an alliance of small islands, think the 2C threshold is too high and are advocating that we should stay within 1.5C of warming, which is the level of warming we may already be locked into.

3)  So what do we hope to come out of the talks?

We hope an internationally legally binding treaty comes out of the climate talks. Not a declaration or other empty promises, but something that legally binds nations and holds them to their commitment.

In order to achieve this, UN diplomats asked for more preparation to be done beforeCOP21 and a contribution from all states is required.

That’s where Intended Nationally Determined Contributions—or INDCs—come in. These are the pledges that countries responsible for more than 80 percent of emissions have made towards emissions reductions in advance of the talks.

However, these aren’t legal commitments—they are more like indications of intentions for the155 countries that have submitted them. But one of the aims of COP21 is to try and get parties to agree to a level of legal “bindingness” at Paris.

While the INDCs submitted currently don’t add up to us staying within 2C of warming (according to a UNFCCC analysis), they are a good start. That’s because the INDCs signify what the biggest polluters—including the U.S., China, Europe and India—are willing to do to tackle global climate change. But the important thing is that there will need to be a mechanism thatreviews INDCs and ratchets up climate ambition after Paris, which will need to be agreed to at the talks.

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