Paris COP21 : Epic Fail or Best Chance to Save the Planet?

Paris COP21 : Epic Fail or Best Chance to Save the Planet?

While world leaders such as US President Barack Obama have termed the climate change deal the “best chance” to save planet Earth, 65,000 persons who gathered at the Eiffel Tower following the deal to denounce the Paris accord for setting the standards too low for success certainly thought otherwise. So, was the Paris accord a success, or did it actually just set the bar too low for success? Did the climate change deal walk the talk or was it all show and no results? Let’s see if the deal is all talk and no action, or it serves the cause of the planet well.

The Climate Change Deal is a Failure

1. Landmark agreement not enough : While the smaller countries were talking about aiming for 1.5 degree C, no agreement was reached and rich countries could do nothing about this. While French foreign minister Laurent Fabius did announce that talks have resulted in a landmark agreement to reduce GHG and aim for 2 degree C, activists are saying this is not enough.

2. Bigger countries not doing their share : The final version of the text has not seen if the developed economies should take the responsibility of saving the planet with equal commitment as emerging or developing economies.

3. Accord is only partially legally binding : Of the 31 page accord, 21 pages are legally binding. This is not enough. It also does not incorporate what governments can do and how they can be root of real change.

4. Drastic emissions cuts needed : The climate deal failed to catalyse immediate, urgent and drastic emission reductions in line with science and equity. It aims to keep global average temperature well below 2 degree C above pre industrial levels and go for efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degree C. Emission cuts in the agreement are however based on voluntary pledges called INDCs or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions”. Further the deal does not officially incorporate GHG emission cuts as part of the deal and what is worse is that the target temperature will not be reexamined till 2020.

5. Agreement is a “poisoned chalice for the poor” : In the words of activist R. Rehman form Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice, the agreement is not only a great escape for massive polluters but also a poisoned chalice for emerging economies. There are plenty of words but no action. None of the developed countries have taken any concrete steps to move away from dirty energy.

6. Agreement weaker than Copenhagen : At least the Copenhagen agreement included aviation and shipping emissions, which is missing from the present agreement. The agreement is weaker than Copenhagen and also is inconsistent with latest scientific facts. For example, shipping and aviation emissions across the globe equal the total emissions combined of UK and Germany.

7. Pledges will only come to force in 2020 : By this time, there will be use of the entire carbon budget consistent with 1.5 degree C warming. INDCs means warming between 2.7 to 3.7 degree C has to happen. For reaching the 1.5 degree target, 80% of known fossil fuels need to be kept in the ground. GHG emissions needed to be combated and deforestation must be stopped. No steps have been taken for this in the Paris accord. Too little, too late is the general verdict.

8. Shortfall in funds : IEA has calculated that transforming to a fossil free world will need USD 1000 billion per year by 2020. While USD 670 billion of this should rightfully go from the rich nations to the developing or poor nations given the historic benefits the former have attained at the cost of polluting the earth, the actual amount promised is USD 100 billion to cover emissions cuts as well as adaptation. Such a paltry sum will not suffice to save the planet or the people.

9. Funds with strings attached : Moreover, the Paris climate deal has equaled mobilising financial resources to include loans, grants with conditions and reallocation of aid budgets and climate finance tag to money sent by poor migrants from rich nations to their families at home. This is just a farce.

10. Equity is not attained : UNEP has estimated that aside from USD 670 billion needed for emission cuts per year by 2020, additional USD 150 billion will be needed by vulnerable countries to protect them from climate change. The USD 100 billion finance floor represents lower than 15% of the sum actually needed.

11. CBDR watered down : Common but differentiated responsibilities have been given less importance in the final draft of the accord. This is a major let down.

12. Door left open for carbon trading mechanisms : These mechanisms have failed to work and there is no mention of fair and effective solutions such as promoting clean energy, reigning in destructive industries and respecting the land rights and food sovereignty of people worldwide.

13. Vague deal : This deal just talks about technologies and actions without mentioning these at length. Even the term renewable energy is just mentioned once in relation to Africa. This climate change deal is just a lot of airy talk without any substance.

The Climate Change Deal is a Success

1. Chance to save the planet : While world leaders have acknowledged that the agreement is far from perfect, they have said it is the starting point and our best chance to save the one planet we have. This could be a turning point for moving into a low carbon future.

2. Aims to reduce emissions : Steps have been taken to reduce average global temperature to below 2 degree C while a target of 1.5 degree C is also aimed for. India and China are some of the nations which have hailed the deal on this score.

3. USD 100 billion set only as floor : A minimum of USD 100 billion has been allocated and more funds are aimed for. This will pave the way for transformation of world economies towards the path for clean energies and technologies.

4. 100s of countries have submitted INDCs : While the climate change deal is partly legally binding, it is also partly voluntary. Even more importantly, close to 189 of 200 nations have already submitted their INDCs to the UN. The 200 or so countries which took part in the negotiations are serious about combating climate change

5. Historic pact : This climate change deal has no winners or losers and we are all working towards a greener future, in the words of Indian PM Narendra Modi.

6. No previous precedent for deal : Other climate change talks have failed. Even if Paris COP21 agreement is more modest, it has been an unqualified success in every sense of the term. This is the first time there has been zero dissent and total cooperation between the nations. Climate change has been acknowledged as a major issue which needs to be resolved. The step forward will only be towards a greener future..


Much like every agreement, the climate change deal too has its share of pitfalls and advantages. But this is where we need to stop and think. Our survival is non-negotiable and not a matter of public debate. The very fact that the agreement is not legally binding and purely voluntary means there will be slackers and no measures to reign in dissent. The agreement is on paper. Reality confronts us everyday. Will the world leaders listen to the concerns of the common man and the activists? Only time will tell as efforts are being made to sign the final version of the draft in NY soon.
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  • RE: Paris COP21 : Epic Fail or Best Chance to Save the Planet? -Deepa Kaushik (12/18/15)
  • Paris COP21 has its own set of pros and cons as any other treaty. We can call it a epic fail or conversely the scope and ray of light to save the earth. Everything depends on individual perception. The same agreement would take the shape as per our future vision.

    Paris COP 21 has been designed to get the countries of the world closer irrespective of their economic status and development. The countries have been united for a nobel cause of protecting the earth. We have never been to such a closer proximity to get together for such a huge cause. It is understandable that saving our Mother Earth is not possible by a single country. Getting united at such a huge platform in itself is a good note.

    Let us take things on the positive note and take Paris COP 21 to be a chance to save the earth. Our mindset and determination would help us progress in the same direction and it could be a good boost for us to save the planet.