The two-week United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris concluded on Friday, December 11, 2015.
The international political response to climate change began in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit, where the Rio Convention included the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC, which became effective on March 21, 1994, now has a universal membership of 195 parties. The first annual Conference of Parties (COP) was held in Berlin in 1995.
This year, for the first time in over 20 years of United Nations (UN) negotiations, COP21 (also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference) sought to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
U.S. President Barack Obama joined leaders from 150 nations at the start
of the conference to pledge action. He called
the two-week gathering a “turning point” in the fight against climate
change and, in quoting the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “There is
no such thing as being too late.”
"There is no such thing as being too late."
~ U.S. President Barack Obama
While efforts to complete a global agreement to curb climate change extended into Saturday – when the final draft of an international agreement setting a goal of halting average warming to less than 2°C (or 3.6°F) above pre-industrial temperatures was formally accepted in Paris – a climate agreement by local officials, the Compact of Mayors, was reached earlier during the conference.
In the effort to reach a local agreement on climate, officials representing more than 500 cities organized and attended their own summit in Paris, which was co-chaired by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Michael Bloomberg, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change. It was the first time this many local leaders had gathered at a UN climate conference. “They came not only to ensure that their voices were heard by heads of state,” Bloomberg announced,” but also to express their determination to act on their own, and to learn from one another and share best practices.”
Bloomberg also noted that cities account for about 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In characterizing the reduction of emissions as smart policy, he listed several actions, that when taken together, would make cities more attractive to businesses and investors. These include:
• Reducing carbon emissions for helping residents live longer, healthier lives
• Improving the energy efficiency of buildings for saving taxpayers money
• Investing in modern low-carbon infrastructure for raising residents’ standard of living.
And, in a move that showcased their desire to think globally and act locally, more than 400 cities signed the Compact of Mayors, an agreement that requires each city to set bold climate goals, adopt a common measurement system for emissions and publicly report their progress.
WGL Energy can help you find the energy answers you need to reduce
carbon emissions, increase energy efficiency and diversify your energy
portfolio with renewable energy sources.
If you are part of a federal, state or local government agency here at home, or perhaps one of the signers of the Compact of Mayors, and would like to learn more about how WGL Energy can help you make a positive contribution in the global fight against climate change, visit our website at www.wglenergy.com/commercialgreen or call your account manager.
For more on the 2015 Paris Climate Conference and the Compact of Mayors agreement, please see the December 6, 2015 Bloomberg View article, “What Paris Talks Have Accomplished So Far.”