Reaction to the Paris Agreement from the dozens of civil society organizations onsite captured the stark limitations in a deal that reflected a compromise among nearly 200 countries, but still spelled the beginning of the end for fossil fuels.
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune called the deal “a turning point for humanity,” noting that “decisive leadership and action from President Obama and other world leaders, an increasingly powerful climate movement, and strong progress in the U.S. and globally to move off coal cleared the way for every nation to come to the table.” He added that “anyone in Washington or in the boardrooms of fossil fuel companies around the world who attempts to stand in the way will have the full weight of the international community, global markets, scientific consensus, the climate movement, and public opinion firmly pushing back against them.”
“The agreement’s temperature goal, net zero emissions objective, and processes to steadily increase the ambition of national emissions reduction commitments combine to send a clear message to the fossil fuel industry,” said Alden Meyer, Director of Policy and Strategy for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “After decades of deception and denial, your efforts to block action on climate change are no longer working.”
“The wheel of climate action turns slowly, but in Paris it has turned. This deal puts the fossil fuel industry on the wrong side of history,” said Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo. “There’s much in the text that has been diluted and polluted by the people who despoil our planet, but it contains a new imperative to limit temperature rises to 1.5°. That single number, and the new goal of net zero emissions by the second half of this century, will cause consternation in the boardrooms of coal companies and the palaces of oil-exporting states.”
“By including a long-term temperature goal of well below 2°C of warming with a reference to a 1.5°C goal, the latest draft text sends a strong signal that governments are committed to being in line with science. What we need now is for their actions, including emission reductions and finance, to add up to delivering on that goal,” said WWF International Head of Delegation Tasneem Essop. “A big concern is that there’s no guarantee of assistance for those who will suffer from immediate climate impacts, especially the poor and the vulnerable.”
Oxfam International Executive Director Helen Szoke said the deal “offers a frayed lifeline to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Only the vague promise of a new future climate funding target has been made, while the deal does not force countries to cut emissions fast enough to forestall a climate change catastrophe. This will only ramp up adaptation costs further in the future.”