A deal to attempt to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2C has been agreed at the climate change summit in Paris after two weeks of intense negotiations.

At 7:26 PM on Saturday night [December 12th] Paris time, a historic climate agreement was reached at the Le Bourget conference center, where negotiations have been taking place over the last two weeks at the 21st meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—otherwise known as COP 21.

The pact is the first to commit all countries to cut carbon emissions. The agreement is partly legally binding and partly voluntary. Earlier, key blocs, including the G77 group of developing countries, and nations such as China and India said they supported the proposals. President of the UN climate conference of parties (COP) and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said: “I now invite the COP to adopt the decision entitled Paris Agreement outlined in the document. “Looking out to the room I see that the reaction is positive, I see no objections. The Paris agreement is adopted.”

Clear and Powerful Message to Fossil Fuel Industry

The Paris Agreement sends a clear and powerful message to the fossil fuel industry: after decades of deception and denial, their efforts to block action on climate change are no longer working. Growing public concern about climate impacts, and the availability of cost-effective efficiency and renewable energy solutions are giving leaders the political will to stand up to fossil fuel polluters and to put us on a path to create the global clean energy economy needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

cop-21-Alden-off-to-marrakechBut even if we succeed in holding the increase in global temperature well below 2 degrees Celsius, the impacts of climate change will continue to increase over the next several decades, as a result of global warming emissions over the last two centuries.

Vulnerable countries require scaled-up assistance to cope with these impacts, which they had almost no responsibility for creating. While some progress was made on this front in Paris, much more remains to be done, and ramping up developed country public finance for both adaptation activities and responses to loss and damage— the costs of dealing with both sudden disasters like typhoons and floods, and slow-onset impacts like sea-level rise and droughts — must be a priority going forward.

These issues need to be a major focus of the next Conference of the Parties meeting, to be held next November in Marrakech, Morocco.