History made in France as world signs onto climate treaty at United Nations COP21

Brandi Morin
APTN National News
After 21 years and a failed Kyoto Accord, the world came together for the environment history unfolded in France Saturday.

All members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) signed a pact to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions drastically.

The UN said the Paris Agreement marks a decisive turning point.

“For the first time, every country in the world has pledged to curb emissions, strengthen resilience and join in common cause to take climate action,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement. “What was once unthinkable has become unstoppable.”

Negotiations wrapped up late Friday evening following more than a week of day and night deliberations to form consensus.

To prevent predicted catastrophic threats presented by climate change, a goal of keeping atmospheric temperature levels from rising to 2 degrees with an ambitious target of 1.5 degrees was agreed upon.

Focusing on five major outcomes that will come into effect in 2020, including: goals to achieve net zero emissions by 2070, countries reporting progress to member states every five years, commitments of transparency to ensure goals are met, adaptation and climate finance to support developing countries offset the impacts of climate change and transition to renewable energy.

“In France, we’ve seen a few revolutions over the course of centuries- today’s is the most beautiful,” said COP21 president Francois Hollande.

Investments into the renewable energy sector are expected to skyrocket kick-starting a worldwide boom into a green based economy.

“Markets now have the signal they need to unleash human ingenuity and low-carbon growth,” said Ki-moon.

Canada took a lead role in helping to facilitate the negotiations at COP21 having Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna at the forefront of the talks. Canada’s sudden vigorous participation at COP21 and high-reaching commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was cause for celebration for Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

May attended the COP21 as part of the Canadian delegation and has long advocated for the need to address global warming and encouraged the Canadian government to get serious about taking action.

“This (treaty) could save millions of lives,” said May during a live Facebook video post from Paris. “Ban Ki-moon gave a wonderful statement on how this was also attributed to civil society, to the environmental groups, to all the marches, to everyone who ever gathered for earth hour. For anyone who ever did anything, this is the statement that the world is capable of listening to, even governments, and we need to make this much stronger.”

Almost 200 countries including two of the world’s largest pollution emitters, China and India signed on to the agreement.

“We can look into the eyes of our children and grandchildren that we have joined to bequeath to them a livable world,” said Ki-moon.

Throughout the negotiations Indigenous groups were concerned that reference to their rights regarding climate change would be left out entirely.

However, acknowledgement of Indigenous rights was un-bracketed and put back into the preamble-the non-legally binding part of the treaty.

There is also reference to consideration of traditional Indigenous knowledge during mitigation efforts in the main text of the treaty.

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