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It required extending the United Nations conference on climate change by an additional day, but the global community has produced what is expected to become a global agreement to guide action on climate change beyond the year 2020.

"This agreement marks a pivotal moment in history," said the David Suzuki Foundation's director of science and policy, Ian Bruce. "While it may not be perfect, this text presents the first ever global agreement to eliminate fossil fuels and transition to 100 per cent renewable energy. It is ambitious and addresses many of the previously existing gaps in global climate action."

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Highlights of the final agreement include:

  • Recognition for the goal of limiting average global temperature rise to 1.5°C (with the 2°C level serving as an absolute ceiling).
  • A five-year review cycle (beginning in 2018) to evaluate and strengthen national action plans to reach the goal of zero emissions.
  • Financing to help the most vulnerable and least developed nations cope with the impacts of climate change while cutting their own carbon emissions.
  • Linking climate adaptation goals to mitigation (cutting carbon emissions) while recognizing current science, traditional knowledge of indigenous people and local knowledge systems.
  • The recognition of human rights and indigenous rights.
  • The agreement falls short on a number of topics including dependable loss and damage payments to nations that are already feeling the impacts of climate change as well as liability for past emissions. These and other limitations will require future work to strengthen.

"The thing to recognize is that this agreement is the result of an enormous effort on the part of scientists, activists, politicians and ordinary citizens who have been engaged on the issue of climate change," said Bruce. "We will need to continue to push Canada, along with its international partners, to cooperate and act on the framework the agreement lays out and to ratchet up their ambition; but we should also recognize that this is a major achievement."

Canada played a pivotal facilitator role in drafting the agreement. Canadian negotiators were also advocates for human and indigenous rights.

"Canadians wanted leadership, and they got it," said Bruce. "The next step will be for Canada to make good on its promise of new ambitious targets and a complete climate action plan. What Canada does matters."

The government of Canada has pledged to provide new, more ambitious national targets within 90 days of the Paris Agreement. That clock begins now and ends March 11, 2016.

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For more information or commentary contact:

In Paris:
Steve Kux
David Suzuki Foundation
00-1-604-374-5095
skux@davidsuzuki.org

In Vancouver:
Theresa Beer
David Suzuki Foundation
778-874-3396
tbeer@davidsuzuki.org

In Montreal:
Manon Dubois
David Suzuki Foundation
514-679-0821
mdubois@davidsuzuki.org

December 12, 2015
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/media/news/2015/12/david-suzuki-foundation-is-hopeful-that-the-landmark-paris-agreement-will-transl/