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Nearly 200 Nations Adopt Climate Agreement At COP21 Talks In Paris

December 12, 2015

In what supporters are calling a historic achievement, 196 nations attending the COP21 climate meetings outside Paris voted to adopt an agreement Saturday that covers both developed and developing countries. Their respective governments will now need to adopt the deal.

Presenting the agreement aimed at curbing global warming hours before the final vote was taken, France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the delegations, "You go into this room to decide a historic agreement. The world holds its breath and it counts on you."

The agreement, which was publicly released Saturday morning (ET), sets the goal of limiting the world's rise in average temperature to "well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

Reporting on details of the deal, NPR's Christopher Joyce says, "To help developing countries switch from fossil fuels to greener sources of energy and adapt to the effects of climate change, the developed world will provide $100 billion a year."

He adds that the 1.5-degree cap was sought by island nations.

You can watch a livestream of the event online.

Update at 1:43 p.m. ET: 'Single Most Important Collective Action'

Conservation International Chairman and CEO Peter Seligmann says the COP21 agreement "is a transformative diplomatic victory," but he adds, "The hard work of delivery begins now. The security of nations and humanity depends upon the reduction of emissions and the protection of nature."

The group calls the agreement "the single most important collective action for addressing climate change ever agreed upon."

Update at 1:30 p.m. ET: Deal Is Adopted

The hall erupts into applause after no one objects to a final adoption of the deal to combat global warming and rein in greenhouse gases.

After the excitement dies down, Fabius is reminded he must use his gavel to make the results official.

"It's a small gavel, but I think it can do a great job," he says as he raps it on the table.

Update at 1:18 p.m. ET: The Session Has Begun

After hours of delays, Fabius begins the evening's proceedings in France.

The event then turned to correcting errors in the documents, as well as differences between translations.

Update at 12:50 p.m. ET: U.S. Supports Deal; Meeting Still Pending

With delays slowing the start of the meeting, we're hearing word that U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern says the United States will agree to the deal. Stern spoke to reporters as delegates entered the main gathering hall.

The Like Minded Group of Developing Countries — China, India, Saudi Arabia, and others — has said through a spokesman that they're "happy" with the deal, the BBC reports.

Our original post continues:

"The end is in sight. Let us now finish the job," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told delegates at the two-week meetings. "The whole world is watching. Billions of people are relying on your wisdom."

The document includes two essential recognitions:

  • "that climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet and thus requires the widest possible cooperation by all countries"
  • "that deep reductions in global emissions will be required in order to achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention and emphasizing the need for urgency in addressing climate change."

The deal also calls for five-year updates on how the plan is being instituted.

For it to take effect, all 196 individual governments in the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change will need to adopt the final document. Working out terms of the deal required adding an extra day to the conference.

"Major hurdles included how much wealthy countries would spend to help developing countries adapt to climate change," NPR's Christopher Joyce reports from Paris. Chris adds, "donor countries will retain the right to monitor how that money is spent.

Urging negotiators to seize a chance to change the world, French President Francois Hollande said, "History is here. All the conditions are met. The decisive agreement for the planet is now."

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