‘World has entered low-carbon age’: Leaders react to Paris agreement

  • Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, Paris
  • Updated: Dec 13, 2015 09:40 IST
French foreign affairs minister Laurent Fabius (C), president-designate of COP21, puts his hand over his heart after his speech as he stands near French President Francois Hollande (L) and United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon (R) at the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris. (Reuters Photo)

As euphoria over the Paris climate deal erupted, Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the world leaders in congratulating French President Francois Hollande for the successful Paris summit that went past midnight to conclude in a 14-day high drama in Le Bourget, a Paris suburb.

Sources said the PM called Hollande just before the Paris agreement was to be presented in the conference of parties for adoption and expressed India’s support for the universal and binding agreement achieved a month after the terror attacks hit Paris.

Modi is said to have taken personal interest in ensuring that India plays a constructive and lead role in confabulations as he had a discussion on the proposed deal with US President Barack Obama earlier this week and spoke to Hollande twice on Saturday.

Sources also said that the PM took the briefing from environment minister Prakash Javadekar on the state on play in the negotiations on a daily basis. “The minister had briefed the PM at-least four times in the last few days on every aspect of the deal,” a senior official said.

The global euphoria over the deal was visible when Hollande said at the closing plenary, “You have made history because you were committed. You did not calculate. The world has entered the low-carbon age.”

Climate activists applaud as they carry a red banner during a demonstration at the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget, north of Paris. (AP Photo)

Leaders speak

UN secretary-general and former South Korean diplomat Ban Ki-moon said there were solid results in all key elements of “ambitious, flexible, credible and durable” Paris agreement.

“You have rightly agreed that the current level of ambition (US $100 billion) is the floor, not the ceiling, and that every five years, beginning before 2020, you will regularly review what is needed in line with science,” he said. “When historians look back on this day, they will say that global cooperation to secure a future safe from climate change took a dramatic new turn here in Paris.”

Environment minister Prakash Javadekar termed Saturday as “historic” and quoted Mahatma Gandhi to say that the present generation had inherited the earth from ancestors as loan for future generations.

“The agreement supports the development imperatives of the developing world and harmonises development with environment protection,” he said, adding that India engaged constructively and in good faith with all 196 countries at the mega summit.

US secretary for state John Kerry said this was tremendous victory for all citizens of the world and future generations.

“We have reached an agreement that, fully implemented, will help us transition to a global clean energy economy and ultimately prevent the worst, most devastating consequences of climate change from ever happening,” he said. “What matters is what we do next, how we implement our targets, how we build this agreement -- that is what will determine whether we’re actually able to address one of the most complex challenges humankind has ever faced,” he said.

US secretary of state John Kerry at the COP21 United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Le Bourget. (AP Photo)

European Union’s climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said he was proud that the agreed has been approved in a European country which had faced terror attacks a month ago.

“We have done what some of us doubted before the start of this conference. We have provided a secure future for next generations and capability to vulnerable nations to meet the challenges of climate change”.

Xie Zenhua, vice-chairman of National Development and Reforms Commission of China, said it was not a “perfect” agreement and there was a need for improvement in certain areas.

“It (Paris agreement) will enhance low carbon green growth and was based on UN climate convention principles and as per the Bali Action Plan. Enhancing pre-2020 and post 2020 commitments were compatible with each other and was reflected balance in the agreement,” he said.

People read "The adoption of the Paris agreement" after the announcement of the final draft by French foreign affairs minister Laurent Fabius at the COP21 Climate Conference in Le Bourget, north of Paris. (AFP Photo)

Venezuelan minister Claudia Selmo said the agreement had brought “life and hope” back to Paris which was hit by worst terror attacks a month ago.

“The social dimension of the climate change and inter-generation equality has been attained. It is a just and equitable agreement, the best we could have achieved,” she said.

South Africian environment minister Edna Molewa said the mandate given by her country in Durban four years ago has been achieved within the given timeframe.

“Not a perfect but a solid foundation for determined action to fight climate change has been taken. This is the best we can do at this historic moment but the agreement needs improvements on ambition and climate finance which can be achieved in subsequent years,” she said.

Voice of dissent

The only country to object to the Paris agreement was Nicaragua as suggestions were not accepted by the French presidency on making 1.5 degree Celsius temperature increase to pre-industrial level by 2100 as the main goal.

“Our intention was never to block the agreement but what you have done has weakened UN principle of multi-lateralism and consensus,” said the Nicaragua’s US born climate envoy Paul Oquist, claiming the agreement will drown his country. “There should be climate budget or we are moving towards a 3 degree world”.

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