COP21: As it happens

Photo credit / Reuters / Stephane Mahe.
By Anders Lorenzen, in Paris

Key Developments: Final Week

  • World leaders and Ban Ki-moon open summit
  • Countries agree on a draft text; mixed reactions
  • Major countries declare support for a 1,5 C target
  • French COP President begins higher climate negotiations Sunday afternoon
  • Major international partnerships mobilizing large-scale financing for climate protection
  • China announces 60% cut in emissions from power sector by 2020
  • Final text released sets out warming to be kept well below 2 degrees C.

Saturday 12th Dec
Focus: Agreement deadline day

Just after 19:00 (local time), a historic moment in climate change negotiations occurred when Laurent Fabius declared the Paris Agreement for adopted. For the first time ever, the world now has a global climate deal ratified by all member states of the UN.

At midday on Saturday, COP21 President Laurent Fabius thanks all delegates for their hard work, saying an agreement has been reached, before receiving a standing ovation. He explains it is a balanced, fair and sustainable text, and most importantly a legal document, which sets out efforts to keep within a 1.5 degree temperature rise and well below a 2 degree rise. Fabius says that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is everyone’s responsibility and that this text, represents the best possible outcome at this stage. Fabius asks that countries now accept the text.
French president, Francois Hollande also encourages all countries to look beyond national interests, support and sign the document to ensure a historic agreement today.

Could be another late night of discussions. The adoption progress started 17:30 (had been delayed by 1.5 hours).

Friday 11th Dec
Focus: First extended day of text negotiations.

// Even though the French hosts previously said a deal must be reached on Friday, they have agreed to extend negotiations into Saturday. UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon has said improvements had been made in the latest draft text, but he urged countries to go back to the tables and come back with even better commitments. The French Foreign Minister and COP21 President, Laurent Fabius, said that a final text must now be released no later than noon Saturday rather than Thursday night. The stumbling blocks currently surround issues such as ambition, finance and whether the commitment target should be set as a 1.5 or a 2 degree target.

Thursday 10th Dec
Focus: Initial final day of text negotiations

The final text draft was meant to have been delivered at 7pm this evening however has not yet been circulated. In the latest draft version (released yesterday) the option for a 1.5-degree target was retained.

As the talks enter their final phase, pressure for a deal is increasing. Civil society has had a busy day with ongoing protests around the COP21 areas. In the ‘all access’ Climate Generations zone, a large Black Lives Matter social justice protest took place calling for climate justice for black Americans who are bearing the weight of pollution due to their proximity to coal fired power plants. They called for all US coal power plants to be shut down and a UN climate agreement in support a 1.5 C degree target.

Wednesday 9th Dec

Focus: Text negotiations and John Kerry speech

US Secretary of State John Kerry is due to speak at 2pm today. According to Coral Davenport from the New York Times he has hinted that he has new up his sleeve  that could sweeten a deal.


The new draft text has just been released, with the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, stating that the final text must be available on Thursday.

Germany has announced US$50 million funding for the Adaptation Fund.

Tuesday 8th Dec

Focus: Text negotiations


While ministers were trying to work out the political obstacles to a deal, former US Vice President Al Gore delivered a keynote speech, in which he focused on extreme weather events happening across the planet and stated we could no longer deny the link to climate change.

Monday 7th Dec
Focus: Text negotiations

In recent days, several countries have joined up to support a 1.5 degree C target. Last week Germany said they would be open to the idea and today this won support from the US, China, Canada and the EU, which means the world’s largest emitters now support the idea. This could signal a major breakthrough as for many years it had been a key demand by many small developing countries and island nations, who are at the forefront of climate change. However, it is likely to be met with fierce criticism as current pledges by UN countries would not even be enough to meet the 2-degree target.

Also today, according to the Guardian, Vladimir Putin said that Russia would not stand in the way of a global climate deal. Apparently Putin has given his assurances to the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, that his negotiators would not block a deal.






In a Mashable / UN project called ‘Earth to Paris’, world leaders, celebrities and entrepreneurs today added their support for a global climate deal. The event was live streamed and people across the globe were urged to tune in as it happened.

Sunday 6th Dec

Focus: Moderate activity, mainly a rest day

Traditionally not a lot takes place on the Sunday of the first week, however, according to TckTckTck ( global coalition of climate NGO’s), breaking with traditions the French COP President will begin higher climate negotiations this afternoon. On the activism front, indigenous groups took to canoes on the Seine to call for climate justice and indigenous land rights.



Obama and other world leaders pose for a family photo on the opening day of COP21. Photo credit: Ian Langsdon / POOL.
Saturday 5th Dec

Reactions are being released to that draft text agreement:
Richard Black, director of the think-tank the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU): “The situation couldn’t be more different from Copenhagen … when delegations were more interested in grandstanding”.
Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko of South Africa, who speaks on behalf of more than 130 developing nations: “We had hoped that our work would be further advanced,”. The fear is that the talks could end with a weak deal with so much work left.”
Laurence Tubiana, French climate envoy: “This text marks the will of all to reach an agreement.”
China delegate, Su Wei: “Though very difficult, have produced very good results and provide a strong foundation for next week.”
Martin Kaiser, Greenpeace: “At this point in Copenhagen we were dealing with a 300-page text and a pervasive sense of despair. In Paris, we’re down to a slim 21 pages and the atmosphere remains constructive. But that doesn’t guarantee a decent deal. Right now the oil-producing nations and the fossil fuel industry will be plotting how to crash these talks when ministers arrive next week.”

Chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Group, Mr Giza Gaspar-Martins of Angola: “The issues dear to the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are still not adequately represented within the text. If the climate agreement does not work for the most vulnerable among us, how can we say it has been a success? We cannot. The LDC Group feel the text remains overly long and at this stage still does not have enough emphasis on their key areas of concern: the ambition for a below 1.5 degrees C pathway, transparent and accessible climate finance flows and a new Loss and Damage mechanism within the agreement.”

Draft text agreed:

A significant breakthrough has been reported on today as the 195 UN countries have agreed on a draft text, that will now be passed on to ministers who arrive on Monday. Negotiators say this is the result of four years hard work. But while progress has been made on agreeing on the draft record there are still hundreds of points that split countries and it will be a huge task for ministers to resolve them.

One of the sticking points is that of phasing out fossil fuels, which some developing countries would like to see ended by 2050, something that China amongst others is opposed to.

The current draft text amounts to 43 pages, of those 21 pages represent the core part of an eventual deal. Immense progress has been made on reducing the length of the text as earlier this year it counted 100 pages.

Friday 4th Dec

Milene Larsson from Vice (above) have been looking at the struggle climate activism face in Paris and what is at stake at COP21.

Latest on draft text:

The latest draft version of the Paris text have made some headway, but still several hurdles remain. The text is more readable and progress have been made on adaptation, but finance still appears to be a dividing point. Though responding to the text, Chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Group, Mr Giza Gaspar-Martins of Angola said: “We welcome the draft of the negotiating text and are pleased to say all countries worked hard to deliver this as close to the deadline as possible. The Least Developed Countries look forward to continuing the negotiations in a constructive spirit and in good faith with a view to arriving at a new climate agreement that is true to the principles and spirit of the Convention. In particular article 4.9, which acknowledges the special needs and circumstances of the LDCs.”

The environmental NGO, Greenpeace, have released a halfway statement on the summit. Martin kaiser from Greenpeace said: “We’re at the halfway point of the summit, but in the push to get a decent deal we’re not yet halfway there. There’s a lot of heavy lifting still to be done when ministers arrive next week. At this point in Copenhagen, we were nowhere, but here in Paris we’re in a much better position than we were six years ago. There are a constructive spirit and a determination among key players to get a deal.”

Denmark who until recently was widely seen as a world leader in tackling climate change was yesterday awarded the Fossil of the Day Award (see above(. The satirical award is handed out daily by civil society and NGO’s to the countries who does the least to tackle climate change. The decision given was the new Danish government recently announced plans to scale back its green ambitions.

And today the former Danish environment minister released a video (above) highlighting the economic and environmental case for going green.

Thursday 3rd Dec

Focus: Infrastructure and Buildings
In situ participant Matt Jensen, CEO at Sefaria, sent us the following comment piece from the summit:

“The global population is expected to reach 8.5bn by 2030, something that will lead to an increasing need for places for people to live, sleep, shop and work. This means more buildings, and a greater impact on climate change too, as these structures already use up around 40% of the world’s energy and contribute a third of the planet’s greenhouses gases. However, by using improved tools and testing in the design phase of a building project, structures can be tweaked to save 42-87% of the energy required to keep it running – reducing the global energy requirement by buildings by up to a third!”

Wednesday 2nd Dec

Focus: Increasing Resilience
Under the Lima to Paris Action Agenda, major international partnerships are mobilizing large-scale financing to protect people most vulnerable to climate impacts. On Wednesday, several announcements were made surrounding building more resilient societies and economies for these individuals. Several initiatives were agreed upon:

  1. Early warning systems for over 50 least developed countries and small island states.
  2. Providing access to insurance to 400 million vulnerable people in five years.
  3. Increase resilience for local communities in the Sahara and Sahel.
  4. US$ 150 million partnership to mobilize more funding for Africa and Asia.
  5. EU mobilizing €125 million for countries affected by ‘El Niño’
  6. UN initiative strengthens ability to anticipate, absorb and “reshape” climate impacts.

In other developments, China said it will cut emissions from the power sector by 60% by 2020. They also said that to deal with the human health crisis caused by air pollution, they will reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power generation by 180m tonnes by 2020.

Tuesday 1st Dec

Focus: Resilience, Water and Oceans.
At a press conference, a broad coalition of nations, river basin organizations, business and civil society announced the creation of the international Paris Pact on Water and Climate Change Adaptation initiative to make water systems, which they say is the very foundation of sustainable human development, more resilient to climate impacts. The Pact involves a wide geographic coalition of national and cross-border river basin organisations, governments, funding agencies, local governments, companies and civil society.

Monday 30th Nov:

Focus: World leader speeches
The COP was officially opened by French President Francois Hollande and UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon. Hollande noted that: “The year we have just lived through has been a record-breaking year, temperatures, CO2 levels, a record number of climate events”, whilst Ban Ki-moon stressed that Paris must mark a turning point and emphasised the importance of a low-emissions and a climate-resilient future.

Marshall Islands President Christopher J. Loeak, said that COP21 must strive for agreements that would limit climate change to a 1.5 temperature rise, stating: “It must send a message to the world that if we’re to win the battle against climate change, the fossil fuel era must draw to a close, to be replaced by a clean, green energy future, free of the carbon pollution that is harming our health, stunting our growth, and suffocating our planet”. The Marshall Islands are one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, stated that we must put a price on emissions and phase out fossil fuel subsidies. Interestingly, did not reference any intent by Norway to decrease oil and gas investments at home

US President Barack Obama called for an ambitious deal and insisted that the US, as the world’s second largest emitter, acknowledges its role in this commitment. He emphasised the US’s increased investments in clean energy under his Administration, said that Paris should clearly show that the world is committed to a low carbon future, and concluded ‘’let’s get to work’’.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised in his speech that the developing world must be allowed time and space to grow, whilst the developed world must pay for the damage caused by climate impacts in the developing world. He turned to renewable technology for the solution, announcing India will install 175 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2022.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that we need a deal that will keep the two-degree goal alive, which respects the most vulnerable countries in terms of finance and makes it easy to measure and monitor our agreements. He also stated that we should transfer technology from the richest to the poorest countries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that his country was already dealing with climate change “which has become one of the gravest challenges that humanity is facing”. He also said that Russia has met its Kyoto commitments and are taking the lead in reducing intense energy use.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was decisive and clear about the type of deal required, stating: “The Paris agreement should chart a course for green development. The agreement should put effective control on atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and China has been actively involved in tackling climate change”.