Weekly wrap: After Paris, the real work begins

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Laurent Fabius brings the gavel down on a Paris Agreement (Pic: IISD/Kiara Worth)

Laurent Fabius brings the gavel down on a Paris Agreement (Pic: IISD/Kiara Worth)

By Megan Darby

When the gavel came down at 19:26, Saturday 12 December, the mood in Le Bourget was euphoric. In a historic deal, 195 countries agreed to limit global warming “well below 2C”.

You can relive the final hours of Paris talks through our live blog. It’s a humdinger.

As the afterglow faded, Climate Home looked at the personalities and the last-minute wrangling that got the pact through. And we asked: what happens now?

Quote of the week

“It was a bit like Nelson putting a telescope to his blind eye” – Lord Stern, on whether COP president Laurent Fabius looked to see if there was any opposition before gavelling through the Paris Agreement

Was it Brussels or Majuro that had the bright idea of a “high ambition coalition” to make sure Paris didn’t come out with a minimalist agreement? Both are claiming credit.

Either way, it was a dinner at Droaunt restaurant – known for its foie gras and oysters – on Sunday 6 December that sealed the alliance between rich and climate-vulnerable countries.

COP21 heroes

Foreign minister Tony de Brum was flying the flag for the Marshall Islands, determined to win his low-lying home a chance of survival amid rising seas. But he gave the last word to 18-year-old Selina Leem, who told ministers: “This Agreement should be the turning point in our story.”

There has been talk of a Nobel prize for France foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who ran a flawless diplomatic campaign to smooth the path to consensus.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, who laid the groundwork over the past five years, was greeted with deafening whoops and hugs when she turned up to the after party on Saturday night.

Venezuela’s Claudia Salerno, previously seen as an agitator, came round to support the process and submit the country’s climate plan – leaving objector and ally Nicaragua isolated.

And it was China that stepped in to defend the US and keep the show on the road when a “typo” threatened to destroy everything at the last minute.

Climate calendar: With Paris over, now what?

Outside the COP bubble, what impact does a Paris pact have on the real economy?

Well, cities and business from Los Angeles to Lloyds lined up to endorse its goals.

Major investors said it makes “carbon risk” – the danger of polluting companies losing value in the clean energy transition – unavoidable.

The usually conservative International Energy Agency lowered its coal demand forecast – and shareholders ramped up pressure on mining companies to shift away from the fossil fuel.

The US is primed to deliver its first US$500 million instalment to the Green Climate Fund, despite Republican threats to block the cash.

Number of the week

0.84C – How much warmer 2016 is forecast to be than the 1961-90 average

But there remains a big gap between the aspirational goal of holding temperature rise to 1.5C and the 2.7C implied by 187 national climate pledges. With the exception of Argentina and Canada, Climate Home understands no government is planning to review its emissions targets imminently.

Shipping and aviation, responsible for around 5% of global emissions, remain in a grey area, with no explicit mention in the text.

Outgoing Greenpeace chief Kumi Naidoo told Ed King why civil disobedience is the way to close the gap – and coal funders are his number one target.

This is the last weekly wrap from Climate Home for 2015. To those of you who celebrate it, Happy Christmas. See you in the New Year.

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