12 Dec 2015


World governments finalised a global agreement today in Paris that lays a foundation for long-term efforts to fight climate change, more will be needed to secure a path that would limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

The new Paris climate change agreement is a recognition that the world has fundamentally changed and for the first time is united on a common pathway toward a safer climate, with 190 countries committing to limit pollution from fossil fuels. 

Dermot O’Gorman, WWF-Australia CEO, said “the Paris agreement puts in place a global framework that requires countries to continually strengthen their pollution reduction targets over time.” 

“Paris marks the end of the fossil fuel age, and the acceleration of the renewable energy revolution which is already well advanced, sending a clear long-term signal to business and investors."

“Now that we have a new global agreement, the Australian government can step up and put in place a long-term plan to achieve a 1.5 degree goal. This plan should include policies to clean up and modernise our energy sector, and ramp-up funding to help vulnerable nations and communities adapt to climate change.”

Paris Agreement Content

Kellie Caught, head of the WWF-Australia delegation in Paris, said that the agreement sets up a framework that will allow countries to work towards avoiding dangerous climate change and transition to a cleaner, more sustainable future.

“Significantly, the agreement aims to limit warming to well below 2 degrees and pursue efforts to limiting to 1.5 degrees, sending a strong signal that Governments are committed to being in line with the science."

“It also puts in place a process to regularly review and increase targets, with the first update slated for 2020. This will be critical to close the current carbon pollution gap, which currently has us on track for 3 degrees of warming.”

“The inclusion of a Global Goal on Adaptation as well as a separate and explicit recognition for Loss and Damage are important achievements in the agreement. This goes a long way in raising the profile and importance of addressing the protection of those vulnerable to climate change."

“The Paris agreement also made good progress by recognising that all countries must act to halt deforestation and degradation and improve land management. Adequate and predictable financial support for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation could have been stronger."

“The Agreement, however, does not go far enough in securing the support necessary for the protection of the poor and vulnerable. Further progress will be needed at subsequent UN meetings to strengthen financial support for developing countries.” 

“Significant work will need to be done around transparency, measuring and reporting. While a framework has been set up to move towards a common framework, the details are yet to be determined. These are important to ensure countries are on track to meet targets.”

With a new global agreement in place, world leaders will be returning to their countries with a clear mandate to take strong domestic action on climate change.

Outside the Agreement

Paris will be remembered for much more than the 190 nation agreement that was signed off, said Ms Caught. 

“What makes Paris significant is the unprecedented momentum toward clean energy at business, city, state and community levels."

“Paris delivered powerful new commitments, that sit alongside the main 190 nation agreement, to invest in renewable energy generation, divest from fossil fuels and drive innovation."

These commitments include the Africa Energy Initiative which is set to double the total existing energy capacity using renewable energy by 2030, and the International Solar Alliance announced by India which will grow solar power to increase energy access for the poor, covering nearly 100 countries and impacting billions of people. 

“Both of these new initiatives clearly convey the message that developing countries do not need fossil fuels to grow, but do want access to clean renewable energy,” said Ms Caught.

Next steps for Australia

“Paris is a huge moment in the history of addressing climate change, but it is still just one step in an ongoing journey of global cooperation and now it’s up to the Australian government to do more”, said Ms Caught. 

“WWF welcomes the positive change of tone Malcolm Turnbull brought to Paris and Australia’s support for greater ambition in the agreement. It’s now up to the Prime Minister and his government to harness the economic opportunities, political momentum and moral authority demonstrated in Paris to drive change back home.” 

“The Australian government’s current climate policies are not enough to do what's required to limit global warming to 1.5°C and protect the people and places we love. The good news is WWF and ClimateWorks Australia recently released a new report showing that Australia can achieve strong reductions in pollution to 2030, using current technology, while increasing economic prosperity and growing jobs."

“Australia is well positioned to make at least 50% cuts to our domestic pollution, and at least 65% with international offsets by 2030, including 50% renewables by 2030, all while our economy motors along at similar rates of growth we’ve enjoyed over the last five years.” 

“The Australian government must now turn its words in Paris into reality back home, and put Australia on a clear path to a safer, fairer, cleaner future.” 

WWF-Australia Media Contacts:

In Paris: Samantha Webb

In Australia: Charlie Stevens