195 nations seal Paris climate deal
CHEERING envoys from 195 nations approved a historic accord in Paris to stop global warming, offering hope that humanity can avert catastrophic climate change and usher in an energy revolution.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius ended nearly a fortnight of gruelling United Nations negotiations on the Le Bourget outskirts of Paris with the bang of a gavel, marking consensus among the ministers.
The post-2020 Paris Agreement on Saturday ends decades-long rows between rich and poor nations over how to carry out what will be a multi-trillion dollar campaign to cap global warming and cope with the impact of a shifting climate, reported Agence France-Presse.
Without urgent action, mankind faces increasingly severe droughts, floods, storms and rising seas that would engulf islands and highly populated coastal areas.
The Paris accord sets a target of limiting warming of the planet to "well below" 2 deg C compared with the Industrial Revolution, while aiming for an even more ambitious goal of 1.5 deg C.
To do so, emissions of greenhouse gases will need to peak "as soon as possible", followed by rapid reductions, the agreement states.
The world has already warmed by almost 1 deg C, which has caused major problems in dry developing countries, according to scientists.
Nations most vulnerable to climate change lobbied hard for the wording to limit warming to 1.5 deg C.
Big polluters, such as China, India and Saudi Arabia, preferred a ceiling of 2 deg C, which would have enabled them to burn fossil fuels for longer.
In an effort to get countries to scale up their commitments, the agreement stipulates five-yearly reviews of their pledges, starting from 2023.
According to the Climate Action Tracker, a tool developed by four climate research institutes, most country pledges are "inadequate" and "nearly all" governments need to enhance their 2025 or 2030 contributions.
The first step will be a stock-taking in 2018 of the overall impact of countries' progress in abandoning fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas in favour of renewable sources like solar and wind.
On the crucial financing issue, developed countries agreed to muster at least US$100 billion (S$141.4 billion) a year from 2020 to help developing nations.
However, the United States was not included in the legally binding section of the deal following its objections.
The last time envoys attempted to reach such a sweeping deal was in Copenhagen in 2009, where the meeting dissolved in finger-pointing over who should do what to combat global warming.
This time, the Paris deal reaped pledges from 186 nations by making the system essentially voluntary, which meant more were willing to sign up - even the resistant US.
"You cannot always press the parties to do something on your own terms," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon told Reuters. "Just motivate the parties so that they do it in their own way."
According to the International Energy Agency, the agreement will require US$16.5 trillion of spending on renewable energy and fuel efficiency until 2030.
Singapore hailed the adoption of the agreement on Saturday, calling it historic and crucial for setting the world on a path to a safer future.