Greenpeace response to final climate deal and EU contribution

Press release - December 12, 2015
Paris/Brussels – Reacting to the Paris Agreement at the conclusion of COP21, Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo said:

[Scroll down for comment on the EU’s contribution to the deal]

“It sometimes seems that the countries of the United Nations can unite on nothing, but nearly two hundred countries have come together and agreed a deal. Today the human race has joined in a common cause, but it’s what happens after this conference that really matters. The Paris Agreement is only one step on a long road, and there are parts of it that frustrate and disappoint me, but it is progress. This deal alone won’t dig us out of the hole we’re in, but it makes the sides less steep.”

He continued: “The deal sets out the objective of limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees, but the emissions targets on the table take us closer to 3 degrees. That’s a critical problem, but it’s one with a solution. Renewable energy is already doing heavy-lifting across the globe, but now its moment must come. It’s the only technology mentioned in the Paris Agreement. There’s a yawning gap in this deal, but it can be bridged by clean technology. We’re in a race between the roll-out of renewables and rising temperatures, and the Paris Agreement could give renewables a vital boost. The wheel of climate action turns slowly, but in Paris it has turned.”

He added: “This is not a moment for triumphalism given the lives that have been lost already as a result of climate impacts, and the lives that are on the precipice as temperatures rise. This is a time for urgent action. The climate clock is ticking and the window of opportunity is closing fast.”

[See further (still operative) Kumi Naidoo comments here:]

Now governments need to revise their short-term targets to be in line with their new goals, and revise their energy policies to speed up renewable energy uptake. They must stop funding fossil fuels and end deforestation by 2020.

The Paris Agreement is a Treaty under international law, so it is legally binding. But the national targets (the so-called INDCs) aren’t legally binding and nor are the financial commitments. This is primarily to enable the United States to be part of this global agreement.

The so called “Long Term Goal” is written in seemingly incomprehensible language (“to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century”), but combined with the 1.5C limit,  it implies a goal of achieving net zero in all emissions by around 2060-2080. This effectively means we need to phase out fossil fuels by 2050. 

Indigenous Peoples rights are in the pre-amble and in the Adaptation section of the Agreement. But they’re not given the protection they deserve, particularly given that forest protection will be key to achieving 1.5 degrees. The Paris Agreement acknowledges that countries should respect and promote human rights in addressing climate change.

The conference saw good initiatives around renewables during the negotiations - though outside the official talks. India’s Solar Initiative, the launch of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, mayors and leaders of more than 1000 cities giving their support to a 100% renewable energy future, to name a few. In the text itself, renewables are recognised in the context of promoting universal access to sustainable energy in developing countries, in particular in Africa, through the enhanced deployment of renewable energy.

On the contribution of the EU to the Paris deal, Greenpeace climate policy spokesperson Stefan Krug said:

“The EU often looked like the toothless tiger of the negotiations. It came to Paris with little credibility, paralysed by internal disagreements and having already reached its feeble climate target for 2020. It took until the final days of talks for EU negotiators to rediscover some courage, helping bring together a wide coalition in support of a long-term goal to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, in order to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C.”

“Alongside strong leadership from France, the coalition moved the negotiations forward. But the objectives agreed in Paris highlight the inadequacy of the EU’s own weak commitments on carbon emissions, renewables and energy efficiency.”

“With more and more Europeans already producing their own renewable energy and dozens of coal plants headed for closure, the EU and its national governments must build on these inspiring transformations happening on the ground. The first urgent steps will be to ratchet up EU climate and energy commitments and to adopt strong laws to fast-track the switch from fossil fuels to renewables.”


Contact: Tina Loeffelbein (in Paris) – Greenpeace political communications lead COP21:+49 151 167 209 15


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