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13/12 - 2015

The first day of a new era?

When I woke up this morning, I found myself hoping that the COP21 agreement could really make a difference in this selfish and blind world we live in. 195 countries agreeing on ambitious measures to protect the planet, and more importantly humanity, that’s not nothing. Replacing old polluting and inefficient systems with modern and clean technologies, ceasing to burn fuel in engines and heaters, simply becoming “logical” and not just “ecological”.

 

We were behind the scenes of COP21 in Paris, and were thus able to live each moment of this deal. Eight members of Solar Impulse spent 2 weeks, with hundreds of other specialists, motivating negotiators towards a historical decision, informing the press, and proving that solutions exist and have become profitable. Today, we are profoundly happy. Laurent Fabius and Christina Figueres’ leadership was exceptional. Congratulations to the French government and United Nations, from the whole Solar Impulse team!

 

Beyond the relief, there is also the hope that these measures will be implemented soon and in their entirety. But what exactly does the agreement stipulate?

 

The text plans to maintain global warming by 2100 “well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels” and to “pursue efforts to limit the rise of temperatures to 1.5°C”.

 

The intermediary steps are more vague: reach a “peak of global greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible” and, in the second half of the XXIth century, achieve a “balance” between emissions and their absorption by carbon sinks. Let’s remember that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deems necessary to reduce global emissions by 40% to 70% by 2050 to avoid an uncontrollable disruption of the climate.

 

The principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” of the countries regarding climate change, is recognised and mentioned in several articles.

 

The amount of $100 billion per year, promised by the developed countries to the developing countries until 2020 to help them reduce their emissions and adapt to the impacts of global warming, is a starting point. A higher financial aid will be established before 2025.

 

The importance of loss and damage, dear to the countries most vulnerable to climate change, is acknowledged in a very general way, and no “compensation” from the developed countries is planned.

 

Every 5 years, the emissions-reduction commitment of each country will be reviewed to be made more ambitious.

 

The agreement will come into force in 2020, but any country will be able to withdraw itself from 2023.

 

Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights.

 

Acknowledging the need to promote universal access to sustainable energy in developing countries, in particular in Africa, through the enhanced deployment of renewable energy.

 

It goes to show that pioneering spirit can also exist in the political and legal world…

 

Bertrand Piccard

 

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