The Paris climate conference has agreed a global climate accord. Andrea Rönsberg reports from Paris.
In the global climate agreement, nations are committing to limiting global warming to "well below" two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, "and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees."
"This sends a very strong signal," said WWF's Samantha Smith.
The reference to 1.5 degrees is a considerable negotiating success for small islands and other low-lying nations, such as Bangladesh, who are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
It was consequently lauded by representatives of island states, like Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum.
Strong words on 'loss and damage'
Another concession to vulnerable states is the fact that the draft agreement recognizes the importance to address what is known as "loss and damage."
This term refers to the effects of climate change, which countries cannot adapt to, like rising sea levels, which threaten the very existence particularly of low-lying islands and countries.
"This would be the first time that there is a prominent reference to 'loss and damage', and that it is being defined as a common task to be tackled together in the future, " said Sabine Minninger who is in charge of climate politics at the Protestant Development Service, also called Bread for the World.
Weak signal to investors?
But in an apparent concession oil-rich countries like Saudi-Arabia, and coal-rich nations like India, the Paris agreement seems to fall short of another goal it had set out to achieve: To send a strong signal to investors to get out of coal, oil and gas.
While earlier drafts had included references to the need of 'decarbonizing' the economy by the end of the century, or to achieve 'greenhouse gas emissions neutrality,' the current draft appears to use much weaker language.
But Christoph Bals of Germanwatch says that though technically phrased, the text does in fact mean there have to be "net zero emissions" by the end of the century.
Other observers criticize that this kind of wording will encourage the use of controversial techniques like those aiming to remove carbon from the atmosphere to store it in the ground.
Yet John Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Reseach says that's not a problem. "Technologies such as bio-energy and carbon capture and storage as well as afforestation can play a role to compensate for residual emissions," says Schellnhuber.
One good turn deserves the other
Acknowledging that pledges to reduce emissions in the run-up to the Paris meeting are not enough to limit global warming to below 2 degrees, countries are to be required to continue submitting successively more ambitious pledges every five years.
This had been an issue close to the heart of parties like the European Union, but much less so to emerging economies like China.
It seems that in order to secure the review process they wanted, industrialized countries gave in a bit regarding another issue: that of widening the circle of donors to developing nations.
The EU, and particularly the US, had argued that rich developing nations should also start supporting poor countries in their efforts to adapt to climate change and to invest in technologies for renewable energies.
But the agreement only vaguely "encourages" developing nations to provide support "voluntarily."