COP21 – WHRC and the Paris Agreement


President & Executive Director Philip B. Duffy

The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in Paris during the first two weeks of December, produced a historic global agreement to limit emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases. A delegation of eight WHRC scientists and I went to Paris armed with the science to push negotiators in the right direction. The momentum they and thousands from 195 nations brought to the negotiators culminated in the Paris Agreement.

The core of that agreement is a commitment to uphold the emissions-reductions pledges made by 186 nations over the past several years. Although these pledges are voluntary, it is mandatory to report emissions annually to the UN, and to make revised, more stringent pledges every 5 years. Beyond these elements, the agreement provides funding for mitigation and adaptation efforts in the developing world, and for preservation of tropical forests, a cause which the WHRC has championed for years. Although ambitious and unprecedented, the emissions reductions pledged in the Paris agreement are nowhere near sufficient to limit global warming to the oft-cited 2-degree goal, much less the more desirable but more challenging goal of 1.5o. Please read my extended analysis of the Paris Agreement.

As the negations proceeded, WHRC scientists discussed their work and the issues we work on at a series of events at the COP21 venue in Le Bourget. Highlights of those events are discussed in this month’s newsletter. Please see full coverage of WHRC.

Thanks as always for your interest and support.