The Paris Climate Conference five years on

The UN Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) ended on 12 December 2015. The key decision taken there was the goal of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius. What was celebrated as a breakthrough in climate policy at the time has yet to produce decisive results, commentators lament. But some also see glimmers of hope.

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The Conversation (FR) /

Put an end to the boring conference rote!

Environmental lawyer Sandrine Maljean-Dubois makes the case for changing the format of the climate conferences in The Conversation France:

“The international climate system seems increasingly disconnected from the climate crisis and societal pressure ... The COPs [Conferences of the Parties on climate change] must set aside the endless technical discussions and shift their focus to political mobilization, follow-up measures as a guarantee of mutual trust and the orchestration of action by all actors at all levels. It is definitely time to rethink the rhythm and format of the COPs in order to avoid a situation in which one boring COP follows another without any real connection to reality. The COPs must be designed in such a way that they play an indispensable role in putting us on the path mapped out in Paris in 2015.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Update old laws

Far stricter environmental protection laws are both necessary and possible, writes Bertrand Piccard, chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation, in Le Temps:

“There are hundreds of solutions for industry, energy, mobility, agriculture and buildings that both protect the environment and generate prosperity and jobs. However, their implementation requires the adoption of far more ambitious environmental standards at the political level. ... Because that is our problem: our current legal framework is still based on old and inefficient technologies, allowing polluters to claim that their actions are perfectly legal. To move forward, we must align fear-inducing popular pressure, reassuring solutions and an ambitious legal framework. ... One can only hope that the frustration of failure will push us in that direction.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

The world has awoken

Nobody can look on passively any more, Helsingin Sanomat stresses:

“In September, China took centre stage at the UN General Assembly by declaring that it aims to become carbon neutral by 2060. This was the high point of the changes that have taken place in global climate policy over the past five years. In many parts of the world, the scope and the costs of climate change have now been understood, and measures to combat climate change have become a key component of economic, technological, energy and economic policy. ... China is bursting with new self-confidence when it comes to climate policy. The other countries of the world, including the US, were surprised by China's decision to be carbon neutral by 2060. The argument that you don't need to do anything because China isn't doing anything has now been repudiated.”