Born of Hope

Sustainable Development Goal(s): Renewable EnergyClimate ActionLife on land

cover photo courtesy: US Department of Agriculture

Now the media attention about COP21 has died out a bit and I had the chance to have a better look at the Paris Agreement, it’s time to make up the balance of the text called historical by the negotiators and bullsh*t by climate activists.

If you ask me, reaching any agreement between 195 countries on a topic that affects nearly all aspects of our societies is quite historical whatsoever. It took them twenty-one climate summits to get it, that is twenty too many. But hey, here we are.

Is it enough? Of course not. But if you read my blog post at the beginning of COP21, you know that I was not expecting that. To be honest, when I was going through the drafts of the agreement circulating during the two-week summit, I was optimistic. Some of the good things have made it to the final text, some have not.


One of the biggest surprises is Article 2, which agrees to aim for no more warming than 2°C and the objective of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Many didn’t hope for such an ambitious goal. Don’t get me wrong, more than that would mean straight-away genocide of the inhabitants of Island states such as the Marshall Islands. It has to be less than 2°C.

"We’re playing dices with nature here. And the rules of the game are hard. You win or you die."

Another important issue is the recognition of the differentiated responsabilities and respective capabilities. In human language: every country has to do its fair share. Developed nations should take the lead by undertaking economy-wide emission reduction targets (art. 4, §4) and support shall be provided to developing countries (art. 4, §5).

That’s a first bummer. In the last draft before the final text was released, there were two shall‘s, instead of a should and a shall. Big deal? Big deal. Shall in the UN documents has a legally binding status, should has not. Rumors have it that it were the US negotiators who pressed for this last-minute change in the early hours of Saturday, otherwise: no deal.

At least we have the certainty that rich countries shall help developing nations. That was for me personally an important point I was looking for in the outcomes. I believe that the wealthy nations who put most of the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere to date should reach the hand to others to raise out of poverty in a way that is in harmony with the Planet, not by ruining it. Let’s give them all the tools to not make the same stupid mistakes as we did.

"Let’s give poor nations all the tools to not make the same stupid mistakes as we did."

Although rich countries refused to include the article which would provide a basis for any liability or compensation for the poor ones, the long-awaited climate fund of 100 billion dollars to help them with climate adaptation was officially achieved.

Okay, we know what the goals are. How do they plan to get there? .... 


About the author:

Elias De Keyser sees climate change as the biggest threat to human rights and democracy. Elias is a student in the EIT-KIC InnoEnergy master program "Energy for Smart Cities" at the KULeuven. He has a blog on climate change and how technology can help us. He wanted to communicate about it in a new way, showing how many solutions there are today. It's not too late to act.