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Global COP21 deal 'shows real commitment' to wind

WORLDWIDE: An agreement obliging 195 nations to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and to undertake efforts to meet a 1.5°C goal was agreed on 12 December.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius (centre) celebrates with UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon (third from left) and French President Francois Hollande (fifth from left)
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius (centre) celebrates with UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon (third from left) and French President Francois Hollande (fifth from left)

The new global climate treaty followed two weeks of intense negotiations at the COP21 talks in Paris where the ambition level of the agreement proved one of the most divisive issues.

The agreement binds, for the first time, all countries to a common framework of progressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions while its predecessor, the Kyoto Protocol, only required this of developed nations.

The treaty includes a long-term goal of a peak in greenhouse gas emission as soon as possible.

Combined with the tighter 1.5°C limit, the "seemingly incomprehensible language" of the long-term target "implies a goal of achieving net zero in all emissions by around 2060-2080", said Greenpeace.

GWEC CEO Steve Sawyer said the deal represents a $15 trillion opportunity for the clean energy industry.

"The very ambitious goals in the text now need to be matched with deeds. The agreement itself doesn't change anything overnight, but it establishes a solid framework and a 'floor' upon which we must build," Sawyer said.

Read more industry reaction here

While the agreement itself is a legally binding treaty under international law, the emission reduction targets taken on by all countries are not.

National targets were spelled out in countries' 'intended nationally determined contributions' (INDCs) submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change by most countries ahead of the start of the talks.

EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said: "Our key objectives − on the long-term goal, the five-yearly review cycles and transparency − are in the new agreement.

"The agreement also reconfirms global commitment to continued support to those in need of assistance. We succeeded. Now, what has been promised must be delivered. Europe will continue to lead the global low-carbon transition we have agreed."

The targets were left non-binding in anticipation of difficulty for the US, the world's second largest emitter, to ratify the treaty otherwise.

But the treaty foresees a "facilitative dialogue" to evaluate parties efforts in 2018, followed by a more formal global stock-take every five years after that.

Recognising that the current pledges would lead to warming in the order of 3°C, the treaty specifies that the stocktaking exercise should "inform parties in updating and enhancing" their actions and support.

EWEA said the deal "ramps up ambition and shows a real commitment from all countries to decarbonise their energy systems and in many cases, deploy more wind power. Now is the time for Europe to capitalise on its first mover advantage in wind power by viewing the national commitments as a prospectus for investment.

"But to realise this, Europe must ensure a vibrant home market in order to maintain its competitive edge – an important aspect of this will come in the form of post-2020 national plans for climate and energy including a renewables component," said a spokesman for EWEA. 

RenewableUK chief executive Maria McCaffery said: "This landmark agreement puts the world firmly on course to limiting dangerous climate change and Britain has proved it is willing to play its part. 

"We hope that in the months to come we can see this accord translated into the necessary policies at home to achieve these goals, with ministers returning from the talks fired up to put their weight fully behind the development of the UK's plentiful renewable energy resources, including wind, wave and tidal power, without the government seeking to exclude successful and cost-effective technologies such as onshore wind from our energy mix," McCaffery added.

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