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COP21 gets underway in Paris

As 200 countries gather in Paris today for COP21 or the the 21st Conference of the Parties (CoP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) there is a growing sense of optimism that an agreement can be secured.  COP21 gets underway this morning under heavy security around the Bourget venue North of Paris. The objective will be to find a legally binding deal that will cap global warming at no more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels. Last week, concern was mounting that the terrorist attacks in Paris might have cast a big shadow over the COP21 negotiations. What appetite would the hosts have to secure a deal for the future of the planet in the wake of those terrible atrocities.  Some commentators had suggested that a more mediocre deal will be found in order to secure a deal for President Hollande, but this week expectations are rising again as world leaders arrive in Paris.  Over 170 of participating countries have now submitted their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) that commits each country to specific measures to reduce emissions over time, according to their national circumstances. More than 170 countries, covering more than 95% of global emissions have submitted INDCs.  The ambition is to find a legally binding deal that can be monitored over time with appropriate indicators.

The EU’s negotiating line is built upon targets for 2030, agreed in October last year—a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions, a 27% share for renewables in energy consumption and a 27% increase in energy efficiency, compared to 1990 levels.  The EU’s vision for next week includes: -

  1. A global vision for a long term goal as a signal for stakeholders, including businesses, investors and the public, of the resolve to shift to low-carbon economies;
  2. A mechanism to regularly review and raise the collective ambition;
  3. A robust transparency and accountability system to ensure that Parties and stakeholders can trust that what is promised will be delivered.

In a positive development, a recently published European Environment Agency report has shown that whilst the economy has grown by 46% since 1990, the key 2020 emissions target of 20% has been exceeded this year with a 23% reduction in emissions already.

The European Commission presented its position on the 25th November that Commission President Juncker and Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Arias Cañete will take to the conference, along with other world leaders.

The EU remains committed to delivering its share towards achieving the developed countries' joint goal of mobilising USD 100 billion per year by 2020 for climate action in developing countries. On 10 November, EU finance ministers confirmed (IP/15/6045) that the EU and its Member States provided EUR 14.5 billion in public climate finance (grants and loans) in 2014. This figure constitutes a significant increase compared to previous years. At least EUR 14 billion, an average of EUR 2 billion per year of public grants from the EU budget, will support activities in developing countries between 2014 and 2020.

Within the EU, the European Commission has earmarked more than €110 billion in funding from the EU budget to support climate change mitigation objectives on the ground. A large share of this investment will directly benefit cities and regions and facilitate the transition to a low-carbon and climate resilient society.

The success or failure of COP21 is also dependent on the ability of countries showing their commitment to deliver on voluntary commitments. 

Over 100 EU side events are taking place in the fringes of the COP21 negotiations around the theme of the Action Agenda set out by the previous Peruvian Presidency on the involvement of non-state actors including  businesses, cities and organisations.


Issue 46