12/14/2015, 00.00
ASIA
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COP21: the "historic" Paris climate agreement has some flaws

Implementation will begin only after 2018. The renewable energy sector is enthusiastic for it is expected to account for 59 per cent of investments over the next decade. For scientists, it is a good deal, but must be implemented. A 1.5 degrees increase already threatens island nations.

Paris (AsiaNews) – The agreement reached at the Paris climate Conference (COP21) was met enthusiastically by the assembly, but not everyone is happy, especially because of the slowness with which it will be implemented. The corporate sector seems happy – especially companies involved in renewable energies – as prospects for growth appear bright.

Under 2 degrees

The deal calls for a commitment by the international community to keep the increase in global temperatures "well below 2 degrees", and make efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees.

Out of 195 countries, 186 have already announced steps to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2025-2030.

The problem is that even if all of these measures were put in place, temperatures would increase by about 3 degrees according to many scientists. Threatened by the rising sea, insular nations are already threatened by an increase of 1.5 degrees.

Another controversial part is the decision to review progress every five years. Countries will assess their action towards reducing emissions in 2018 to limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees. The 195 nations will be asked to adjust their action accordingly. The first mandated review is set for 2025; however, this might be too late.

Financial aid

In 2009, rich countries had pledged US$ 100 billion a year - starting in 2020 - to help developing countries transition to clean energy and address the damage caused by global warming, since they are the first victims in terms of pollution and desertification. The Paris agreement describes the US$ 100 billion pledge as a "base" for further aid.

Developed countries insisted though on not being the only ones to pay calling for others like China, South Korea, Singapore, and oil producing countries, to contribute. In the end, the decision was to encourage “other” countries to provide support on a voluntary basis.

Harmed nations

What happens to countries affected by irreversible climate change is still vague. For vulnerable countries, the fact that the issue was mentioned at all is already a victory. However, how aid will be distributed and who will pay remain unclear. The United States, one of the main contributors to global warming, was able to get a clause whereby the agreement cannot be used to blame or demand compensation.

Scientists and industry

In the scientific community, there is considerable satisfaction for the deal. Everyone agrees that the direction taken is the right one. However, for it to work, everyone needs to do its part and what was decided has to be implemented. If this happens, the use of fossil fuels would drop to zero within a few decades, this according to climatologists.

The corporate sector is set to benefit from the transition from coal and oil to clean energy (gas, wind, solar, etc.).

The United Nations estimates upward of US$ 1 trillion a year in spending is required to de-carbonise the global economy and prevent temperature rises.

Under an International Energy Agency scenario, renewables will attract about 59 per cent of capital in the power sector over the next decade, rising to about two-thirds from 2026 to 2040.

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