What a triumph! No one was counting on that - not half a year ago, not two weeks ago, not even during the conference. Jens Thurau celebrates with delegates in Paris.
What a result! All 195 United Nations member states voted in favor of a climate treaty designed to limit rising global temperatures well below the 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) target originally put forth. They voted for a treaty that makes states' voluntary climate goals legally binding and that checks, and if need be, improves these goals should it be necessary. It is a treaty that provides financial help to poor countries on a scale that seemed unimaginable only a short time ago.
Yet everyone has also won something beyond climate protection. The Europeans - that group of states that still seems to make headlines for its infighting - stood united in support of an ambitious treaty. And the small island states - that suffer so greatly from the effects of greenhouse gases, and that have developed such a sense of self-confidence since the Rio climate conference in 1992 - also made gains. It was in fact the tiny Marshall Islands that brought together a coalition of 79 countries in Paris: one joined by Brazil, Mexico and the USA. Unreal - the US is following the lead of the Marshall Islands! In the end, emerging countries India and China won as well by giving up their resistance and thus paving the way for this diplomatic sensation.
Laurent Fabius' masterpiece
In years to come, no one name will be more synonymous with this two week conference than that of Laurent Fabius. Just weeks after the terrible terror attacks, France's foreign minister has kindled a light for the shocked nation. As president of the conference, Fabius led difficult negotiations with stoicism and diplomatic skill. Those who experienced the disaster of the Copenhagen conference six years ago will know just how important this extraordinary performance was. Back then, the Danish president and his team seemed to have made every mistake possible in terms of achieving a sensible balance between wealthy and poor countries. Fabius did the opposite.
And it was also a victory for the oft-derided environmental groups that have been influencing the climate protection process since Rio. They have been unflinching in their tough, sometimes exaggerated criticism and unrealistic demands, but they have always pointed to the science. And then there is the United Nations, which has proven that it can indeed tackle global problems.
Now the goal is to maintain the momentum of Paris: Investments must be shifted away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. Money promised to poor countries has to flow. This has all started, but now the process has to really take off. Perhaps, in a world of increasing crises, a new hope can come forth from environmental protection: The global community can deal with its problems together. Well done France!
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