Paris Climate Change Conference 2015 COP21

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The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is being held in Paris, France from November 30th to December 11th.

In 2015 COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.[1]


Emission reduction targets

Region Post-2020 Target
Australia 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030
China Peak CO2 emissions around 2030 Cut CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 60 to 65 per cent from 2005 level
United States 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025
European Union 40 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels
Russia 70 to 75 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030

Announcement and policies

The African Union announced it will double the continent’s energy capacity by 2030 using only clean, renewable energy.

Thirty developing countries from the Climate Vulnerable Forum pledged to support 100% renewable energy by 2050, as did 1,000 city mayors from around the world.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande launched a 120 nation solar alliance, which committed funds to grow solar power to increase energy access for the poor.​

A coalition has emerged at the conference of 105 of the most vulnerable countries that are after a 1.5℃ limit to global temperature rise.[2]

Fossil fuel subsidy reform communique

The fossil fuel subsidy reform communique, led by New Zealand, encourages countries to phase out subsidies to help limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, extending on previous commitments made by the G20 in 2009.

Australia refused to sign the communique, even though Australian taxpayers subsidise the fossil fuel industry A$182 per taxpayer every year. $9.4 billion over the next four years will be handed out to the most profitable fossil fuel companies in Australia. Australian politicians are captive to “big coal” in particular – which donates to both major political parties.[3]

The communique – which was ceremonially handed over to the UNFCCC head Christina Figueres – stated that even a partial phase out of fossil fuel subsidies would generate 12% of the total abatement needed by 2020 to keep the door open to meet the 2°C target.

Greg Hunt extends the "Australia Clause"

Environment Minister Greg Hunt got what the Turnbull government had keenly sought: the acceptance of accounting rules that allow Australia unrestricted access to the 128 million tonnes of surplus emissions credits it claims from the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. That surplus will allow a big increase of emissions above current levels, and should the current upward trajectory of pollution breach the weak targets, Australia - once it ratifies stage two of the Kyoto Protocol - will get to tap international carbon markets to make up the difference.

At present prices, UN certified carbon units are selling for under $1 a tonne - a bargain compared with the $13.12 a tonne paid by the Abbott-Turnbull governments under its $2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund.

Hunt's success was to nullify opposition from tiny St Lucia in the Caribbean and South Africa to Australia's preferred definition of carbon emissions to include deforestation.

Had Australian negotiators not prevailed, the country would likely have struggled to meet the modest goal of cutting 2000 level emissions by 5 per cent by 2020. Excluding land use changes, the increase could be as high as 11 per cent, Melbourne University estimates.[4]

Australia ranked third last in an annual assessment of 58 nations’ climate policies

Australia has come third last in an annual assessment of 58 nations’ climate policies, with only Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan ranking worse.

The assessment by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe was released at the Paris climate summit, just one day after foreign minister Julie Bishop told the assembled ministers Australia was meeting and beating its climate targets and transforming its energy production.[5]

Australia awarded "Fossil of the Day"

Activists in Paris awarded Australia the "fossil of the day" award – a dubious honour given to a country that has done the most in the past 24 hours to stop a meaningful response to climate change, following a speech from Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop who stated that traditional energy sources such as coal would "remain a significant part of the global energy mix for the foreseeable future".

"Barring some technological breakthrough, fossil fuels will remain critical to promoting prosperity, growing economies and alleviating hunger for years to come"[6]

See also

External links


  1. UNFCCC COP 21 Paris France - 2015 Paris Climate Conference
  2. Two days in at COP21 – what has Australia pledged?, Theconverstation
  3. Paris climate talks: Australia won't sign fossil fuel missive due to Nationals concerns about diesel rebate, ABC New
  4. Paris UN Climate Conference 2015: Greg Hunt extends the 'Australia clause', The Age
  5. Australia ranked third-last in climate change performance of 58 countries, The Guardian
  6. Paris UN climate conference 2015: Australia named 'fossil of the day', The Age

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