A 195-nation wrangle that ended with a historic Paris pact to curb global warming had to be the anti-Copenhagen: as flawlessly organised as the 2009 summit was chaotic, as much a success as the other was a traumatising blow for climate diplomacy.

By nearly any measure and all accounts, France pulled it off. From the gourmet tofu sandwiches to the subtle handling of negotiations compared by one analyst to a 12-dimensional Rubik's Cube, the French hosts of the UN climate conference have been showered with praise.

"It's the most skillful diplomacy I've seen in the more than two decades that I've been going to this kind of meetings," former US vice president Al Gore said.

"It's quite eerie, I must tell you," said WWF climate expert Tasneem Essop, a veteran of the often messy 21-year process, commenting on how negotiating deadlines were being met. "It never happens."

After the fiasco of Copenhagen-which ended with some 115 world leaders scrambling overnight to save face and cobble together a political accord-hosting the next critical climate conference was a big risk.


(From right): French President Francois Hollande, French Foreign Minister and president of the COP21 Laurent Fabius, United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon and UN climate chief Christiana Figueres applaud after the final conference in Le Bourget, France. AP/PTI

Getting virtually all the world's nations to agree on transforming the energy system underlying the world economy was bound to be tricky. But the French did not have to push hard for the assignment. "We were chosen, but I must point out that we were the only candidate," Fabius has said more than once.

It was no secret that climate change was not at the top of French President Francois Hollande's agenda when he took office in 2012.

But as the conference loomed he got personally involved. Hollande spoke frequently and forcefully on the need to beat back the threat of climate change, and focused especially on the plight of poor and vulnerable nations, underlying the need for hundreds of billions of dollars, euros and yen in climate finance.

Two years ahead of the rendezvous, Fabius started to prepare the stage. "I mobilised our diplomatic network, started organising international meetings, and put together my team," he told AFP in his windowless office at the sprawling conference centre on the outskirts of Paris. — AFP

The final print

·         It provides a signal for limiting global warming to well below 2° Celsius and even 1.5° Celsius of pre-industrial levels, increasing the level of ambitions by 2020

·         It calls for countries to be able to ensure by 2050 that only that level of man-made emission is released which our trees and oceans can absorb

·         Rich nations to mobilise at least $100 billion annually from 2020 for developing countries to switch towards greener fuels and technology

·         The agreement does not take effect till 2020, but the work towards the goals starts immediately

·         The conference triggered 188 countries, accounting for almost 100% of emissions, to submit a paper on what they proposed to do for the environment, called Intended National Determined Contributions

·         The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, that has been the main demand of developing nations, is well reflected in the agreement

·         It is a commitment from member countries that they are ready to implement the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda that was adopted at the United Nations General Assembly in September

·         It is a hybrid of both legally binding and non-binding provision, but with a transparent framework to build on mutual trust and confidence among member countries

·         There is no penalty on countries that default on the agreement, but the hope is none will work at cross-purposes



Source: The Tribune, Chandigarh