195 nations seal historic Paris pact to save earth

Rich, poor countries unite to check global warming

195 nations seal historic Paris pact to save earth

To rousing cheers and tears of relief, envoys from 195 nations approved on Saturday an accord to stop global warming, offering hope that humanity can avert catastrophic climate change and start an energy revolution.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius ended nearly a fortnight of gruelling UN negotiations in Paris with the bang of a gavel, marking consensus among the ministers, who stood for several minutes to clap and shout their joy.

“I see the room, I see the reaction is positive, I hear no objection. The Paris climate accord is adopted,” Fabius declared.

Turning to a little green hammer with which he formally gave life to the arduously-crafted pact, he quipped: “It may be a small gavel but it can do big things.”  The deal, to take effect from 2020, ends decades-long rows between rich and poor nations over how to carry out what will be a multi-trillion-dollar effort to cap global warming and deal with consequences already occurring.

The crux of the fight to limit global warming requires cutting back or eliminating the use of coal, oil and gas for energy, which has largely powered prosperity since the Industrial Revolution began in the 1700s.

Ending the vicious circle requires a switch to cleaner sources, such as solar and wind, and improving energy efficiency. Some nations are also aggressively pursuing nuclear power, which does not emit greenhouse gases.

The Paris accord sets a target of limiting warming of the planet to “well below” 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) compared with the Industrial Revolution, while aiming for an even more ambitious goal of 1.5C.

The world has already warmed almost 1C, which has caused major problems for many people around the world particularly in developing countries, such as more severe storms, droughts and rising seas, according to scientists.

Environment groups said the Paris agreement was a turning point in history and spelt the demise of the fossil fuel industry, pointing particularly to the significance of the 1.5C goal.

On the crucial financing issue, developing countries agreed to muster at least $100 billion (92 billion euros) a year from 2020 to help developing nations. However, following US objections, it was not included in the legally binding section of the deal.

Ahead of the talks, most nations submitted voluntary plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions from 2020, a process widely hailed as an important platform for success.

Nicholas Stern, a former chief economist for the World Bank who has become a prominent global advocate of climate action, also hailed the deal. “The Paris Agreement is a turning point in the world's fight against unmanaged climate change, which threatens prosperity and well-being among both rich and poor countries.”

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