COP21: Triumph Of Diplomacy

Despite world leaders’ preoccupation with the current issues concerning international security, the 2015 Paris Climate Conference–also known as COP21–was recently conducted and ended up on a promising note: a brighter future of our planet.

The first collective action devoted to the climate change took place in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit. As a result of the ‘Rio Convention’, the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was created. The UNFCCC came into force in 1994 with 195 members. Then, Berlin hosted the first Conference of Parties (COP) in 1995, which was followed by the adoption of Kyoto Protocol in 1997. Unfortunately, the outcome of the COP15 that was conducted in Copenhagen did not live up to the expectations outlined before the conference as it failed to produce any legally binding agreement to reduce emissions. In 2011, COP17 in Durban, South Africa resulted in the formation of the Green Climate Fund that is aimed at helping developing countries to implement measures necessary to counter climate change. This all lead to COP21, held in Paris earlier this month.

The primary objective of the COP21 was to produce a legally binding agreement that entails maintaining global warming below 2°C. After lengthy negotiations and exhausting efforts to find a common ground, the participating delegates worked out enough compromises to reach a long-anticipated consensus. According to BBC News, the key points of the Paris deal include “to peak greenhouse emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of the century; to keep global temperature increase “well below” 2C (3.6F) and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C; to review progress every five years; and a promised $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020, with a “commitment to further finance in the future.” Although only some elements of the agreement are binding, it is still more than what was achieved during the conference in Copenhagen.

Furthermore, everyone understands that the problem of climate change certainly requires more than two weeks of cooperation to be resolved. On the same day that the agreement was signed, an executive director for Greenpeace International Kumi Naidoo concluded,

“It sometimes seems that the countries of the UN can unite on nothing, but nearly 200 countries have come together and agreed a deal. Today, the human race has joined in a common cause,” adding that “the deal alone won’t dig us out of the hole that we’re in, but it makes the sides less steep”

The successful outcome of the conference proves that collective action can be achieved and that consensus on one problem increases the chances for consensus on how to address other problems plaguing the international community.