Delegates at the Paris Climate Conference reached the final draft of an accord Saturday that would call for a radical decrease of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 as well as holding “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) pre-industrial levels.” “Today we are close to the final outcome,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is leading the conference, said Saturday. “It is my deep conviction we have come up with an ambitious and balanced agreement.”
The 31-page accord also mapped out how participating nations should adopt and implement the calls for climate change and provide the necessary infrastructure for developing countries. The accord requires unanimous approval to make it legally binding. Secretary of State John Kerry tweeted Thursday that negotiations for the accord were at a pivotal point. “Everyone working hard. A critical moment, an opportunity we can’t afford to miss,” Kerry wrote.
Amongst the goals stated in the accord is “recognizing that climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet and thus requires the widest possible cooperation by all countries, and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, with a view to accelerating the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions.”
The agreement also calls for the “acknowledging that climate change is a common concern of humankind, Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity.”
Fabius, President François Hollande of France, and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon all voiced their support of the accord, which came after two weeks of negotiations amongst representatives from 195 countries, the New York Times reports. “Our text is the best possible balance. A balance which is powerful yet delicate, which will enable each delegation, each group of countries, with his head held high, having achieved something important,” Fabius said.
Ban had said there is “no Plan B” for stemming climate change if the accord wasn’t passed; that foreboding phrase was projected on the Eiffel Tower Friday night. “We must protect the planet that sustains us,” Ban said. “For that we need all hands on deck.”