Live blog: The world awaits the final Paris agreement

Eco-Business brings you the latest developments on the final day of the United Nations climate change conference - known as COP21 - at Le Bourget, Paris

La seine hall cop21
Government officials filing into the La Seine hall at the UN climate change conference. The talks have spilled over into the 13th day, as negotiators rush to finalise the Paris agreement - meant to set the world on course to tackle climate change. Image: UNFCCC

10:30 pm - Countries such as Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Marshall Islands and Russia, continue to make speeches to support the agreement, and qualifying their support with concerns on specific issues. 

It looks like the world has got its work cut out. It was the most difficult, complex and challenging task negotiating this historic Paris Agreement. But even tougher will be translating it into action.

We’re calling it a night, so we can catch the train out of here. No doubt the post-mortem and analysis of the agreement and its significance will begin soon. But for tonight, that’s all from the EB team. Good night!


9:36 pm - Maldives minister: “History will not judge us for what we did today but what we do from this day forward.”

Philippines Minister: “We are aware that those who have the least, bear most of the burden.” He said the country would have liked stronger language, but says they are happy that “for the first time, we have enshrined climate justice in a binding agremeent.”

Laurent notes there are 40 countries that have requested to speak. He pleads for everyone to stick to three minutes each as he doesn’t want to “confuse historians about whether the Paris Agreement was inked on the 12th or the 13th”.

The EB team are also running on the last vestiges of our lunch as the site and media centre is getting dismantled around us.

9:27 pm - Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan quotes Voltaire: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”

Even though we do not have a perfect agreement, we have a good agreement, he says. “The current agreement strikes the right balance between developed and developing countries.”

9:22 pm - UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueras addresses the plenary, and thanks her team. 

She traces the efforts of the organisation through its history. “This COP was built over the work of many years, many delegates, many individuals and many institutions.”

“Today, we can say we did and I thank you all.”

Laurent lapses into English and says to laughter: “I forgot my French”.

“The French Foreign Minister cannot speak anything but French. But the COP president must speak English,” he quips.

9:07 pm - French President Hollande takes his turn. “You have succeeded where six years ago, there was failure. You did it, and you did it in Paris.”

You will be able to say that on Dec 12, we were in Paris for the climate agreement. And you will be able to be proud before your children and grandchildren.”

He describes the talks in Copenhagen in 2009 as “chilling the boldest spirits”. Recalling three years ago when France offered to host the climate conference, “I was warned… I was aware that this was a great responsibility and I knew failutre was a possibility. But there’s no progress without being brave.”

“History is written by those who commit and not those who calculate. And today you committed, you did not engage in calculations.”

Hollande praises the national contributions by governments. He says the world is entering the low carbon age.

“This is a powerful movement and this goes beond governments. This will revolutionise the world, but this agreement is only the beginning.”

He commits to forming a coalition to set a carbon price.

“I am very proud that France has hosted this conference. December 12 2015 will go down in history of the planet. In Paris, we have seen a few revolutions over the centuries. But today, it is the most beautiful and peaceful revolution.” He ends his speech, and delegates gives him a standing ovation.

“I am very proud that France has hosted this conference. December 12 2015 will go down in history of the planet. In Paris, we have seen a few revolutions over the centuries. But today, it is the most beautiful and peaceful revolution.” 

French president Francois Hollande

8:54 pm - It’s been a long day. But all countries want to have their say.

Egypt’s Minister specifically highlights certain articles in the agreement as requiring further clarification, but acknowledges the Paris Agreement as bringing us into a “new era of gobal climate governance.”

Senegal’s Minister gives his support. “Although the agreement doesn’t heed all our concerns, it leaves no country behind and allows participation of all countries.”

“Adaptation has its fully fledged role, and it is as important as mitigation in the agreement. That was a red line for African countries. We are grateful you listened to our concerns.”

Ecuador: “Yes we endorse this agreement but we can’t deceive ourselves. There may be carbon neutral fuels but we cannot achieve the targets if we don’t adopt a carbon neutral strategy.”

8:40 pm - Venezuela’s lead negotiator Claudia Salerno: “I believe that we all need to thank Pope Francis and his encyclical laudato si… and Mary Robinson for her tireless work to include human rights to the agreement.”

UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon addresses the plenary now: “Congratulations. History will remember this day the Paris agreement on climate change is a monumental success for the planet and its people.

“Climate change is the defining challenge of our time. I have made it my top priority since I took office as secretary-general… The level of ambition in the agreement is a floor - not a ceiling.”

8:32 pm - India’s Environment Minister: “Today is an historic day. we have written a new chapter of hope in the lives of 7 billion on the planet.  

“While give and take is a normal in negotiations, we are of the opinion that it can be more ambitious…. it is India’s hope that parties will fulfill the vision of Gandhi who said, we should care for a world we will not see.”

St Lucia’s James Fletcher,: “This hs been a resounding triumph of multi-lateralism.” 

8:25 pm - US Secretary of State John Kerry says: “This is a tremendous victory for all of our citizens, not just for any one country. It is a victory for the planet and future generations.

It will send a critical message to the market, he said. In spite of the terror attacks, France has successfully brokered a deal. “You have restored the global community’s faith that we can do things multilaterally,” he said.

“We can leave behind a legacy for our children and grandchildren, for generations to come, and I know we are all better off from the agreement that we finalised today.” 

8:19 pm - A representative from Turkey asks for specific issues to be considered, which Laurent says it will be. China’s Xie Zhenghua then addresses the audience in Mandarin.

He starts by saying China supports what South Africa said earlier: “It is true that the agrement is not perfect and there are some areas in need of improvement however this dos not prevent us from taking historic steps forward.”

“The agreement that we have today is fair and just, balanced ,enduring and effective. It reflects a strong and positive signal that the world is going to achieve low-carbon and green development, and sustianable development.”

8.11 pmEU’s climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete addresses delegates: “Less than one month after the terrible attacks, France has rallied the world to achieve this historic deal … this demonstrates the strength of the French nation and make us all proud as Europeans.”

“The EU will scale up its financial spport and make it more predictable. We have a strong and robust agreement. Today we celebrate, tomorrow we need to act.”

Morocco - which hosts the next COP in 2016 - now takes the floor. Environment Minister, Hakima el Haite, says: “I am somewhat emotional to take the floor. 12 Dec 2015 will be the first time in modern history we have succeeded in… puttiing man and the planet at the heart of international priorities. Nothing was easy in this agreement.”

“Morocco will act with the French presidency and all stakeholders to ensure that COP22 is a suuccess… I look forward to seeing you in Marrakesh.”

8:06 pm - Meanwhile, the twittersphere is buzzing with reactions to the Paris Agreement. Civic society weighs in.

Lucy Cadena, Climate Justice and Energy Coordinator for Friends of the Earth International, said:

“If the outcome of the Paris climate Summit was meant to keep the window open for a 1.5 degree temperature limit – crucial if we are to protect the most vulnerable people from the worst impacts, and to avoid runaway climate change – then Paris has failed.”

“But we must remember that the window is not quite closed. The energy transformation has long been underway and the huge mobilisations on the streets of Paris today show us who is truly leading us towards climate justice.”

“December 12th 2015 marks a turning point for the balance of power. We move into 2016 strengthened, united and more determined than ever to hold our national governments to account.”

7:47 pm - Nicaragua expresses displeasure that the floor was not given to parties before the text was adopted.

“We are not able to support the consensus,” Paul Oquist said. The document “weakens multilateralism” for small countries and dilutes its value, he says. “Our intention has never been to block agreement, but rather work to fine tune it.”

“We are suffering from loss and damage year after year and not receiving international support… Also, we can’t simply strip future generations of their legal rights.”

He is referring to a phrase in the text regarding Loss and Damage - a mechanism that offers help to developing nations which suffer as a result of climate change events - that says “Article 8 of the Agreement does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation”.

7:41 pm - Julie Bishop, Australia’s Foreign Minister, takes the floor. “We have produced a global framework that creates a space for all nations to play their part in securing a sustainable future.”

“Now we can return home to implement this historic agreement. We have concluded a new global agreement take ambitious steps in accordance to their national circumstances. The world has come together to capture our common aspiration.”

“No country will see this as the perfect outcome… however, this agreement does give us a strategy to come together.” 

“This sends a signal to all levels of government, business, civil society… that we are committed to taking action together in a truly global response. Our task does not end here in Paris. Indeed, the hard work begins now.”

7:33 pm - Laurent: “The most difficult part is over it would seem. But naturally i have agreed to give the floor to all of those who so wish.”

South Africa takes the floor. South African Minister Edna Molewa thanks the leadership of the French, and “all parties working tirelessly in the spirit of compromise”. 

“The we have is not perfect but I believe it is solid foundation from which we can launch enhanced action with renewed determination. The agreement is balanced and best that we can get at this historic moment.”

She concludes with a Nelson Mendela quote - the second tonight:

I can only rest for a moment - for with freedom comes responsibilities and I dare not linger. For my long walk is not ended.”

7:23 pm - Fabius says the committee should give the draft agreement for adoption, with the corrections that have just been presented. He “calls to order” the 21st session of the 11th COP. And in a very quick breath, Laurent says: “I invite the COP to adopt the Paris agrremeet. I see there is no objection. I now declare it adopted.” He bangs the gavel. “A small gavel does a great job.”

History is made.

The hall erupts in applause, hugs, tears as delegates celebrate the historic occasion. Christiana Figueras repeatedly gives the thumbs up to the delegates.

7:15 pm - The plenary has finally started. French Foreign Minister Fabius Laurent addresses the delegation and apologises for the hold-up. He says he will give the floor over to one of the co-chairs from Colombie, then to the secretariat for clarifications to be made; then the draft decision will be given to the plenary for adoption.

The UNFCCC deputy executive secretary says some mistakes were made in the text - citing sleep deprivation and movement from one text to another - and proceeds to make technical corrections to the text.

6:25 pm - Here’s a picture from inside the room from a source. We’re still waiting for the plenary to begin - it’s been an hour since it’s supposedly to start. On a side note though, the negotiators seem to be in a jovial mood - lots of ‘selfies’ and ‘wefies’ being taken.

5:50 pm - The La Seine hall is filling up. Among those spotted: Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan chatting to United States Secretary of State John Kerry. Lord Nicholas Stern sitting next to former US vice president Al Gore; former Ireland Prime Minister and former head of the UNHCR Mary Robinson. 


The highly-anticipated final plenary at #COP21 is about to begin - Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan…

Posted by Eco-Business on Saturday, December 12, 2015

4:50 pm - Everyone’s waiting for the plenary to start. Everyone’s wondering if that is the final, final Paris text.

Meanwhile, here’s a picture of protesters of the #EarthToParis movement, a campaign led by a group of organisations from foundations to technology companies to media organizations, to drive awareness and host events that highlight the connection between people and planet and the need for strong climate action.

4:30 pmEdward Cameron, managing director at Business for Social Responsibility, tells Eco-Business that the latest Paris text is good for business.

“The Paris deal will unlock the trillions needed to build a global low-carbon economy. The country pledges to reduce emisisons, combined with the long-term goal of carbon neutrality, will create a whole new market for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other sustainable products and services.

“If you are a pension fund, it no longer makes sense to invest in fossil fuels, because they will become stranded assets. Thanks to the agreement, it makes much more sense to invest in renewables.”  

4:05 pm - Here’s some comments from Lord Nicholas Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, and profesor at the London School of Economics and Political Science on how the Paris agreement will affect business:

“Increased investments will be needed, particularly in infrastructure, and the multilateral financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the regional development banks, must play a leading role in scaling up finance and bringing down the costs of capital.

“National, and local governments, cities and businesses must now raise their efforts to match the ambition of this Agreement. Cities and businesses have been strongly represented at the Paris climate change summit and have played an important role in urging governments to achieve a strong agreement, and emphasising the important role of innovation in creating a low-carbon economy.”


3:40 pm - The Comite de Paris meeting has been postponed to 5:30pm from 3:45pm. To be followed by the COP and CMP plenaries (UN jargon for different negotiating tracks under the convention). More time for a cup of tea and further analysis then.

3:19 pm - Scientists comment on the latest draft of the agreement.

John Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, on the long-term target in the draft Paris agreement:

“If agreed and implemented, this means bringing down greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero within a few decades. It is in line with the scientific evidence we presented of what would have to be done to limit climate risks such as weather extremes and sea-level rise.”

“To stabilise our climate, CO2 emissions have to peak well before 2030 and should be eliminated as soon as possible after 2050.”

Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science and Leader, Climate Research Programme, University of Oxford said that achieving a balance between “sources and sinks of greenhouse gases” in the second half of this century will require net carbon dioxide emissions to be reduced, in effect, to zero.

“It seems governments understand this, even if they couldn’t quite bring themselves to say so. To have a good chance of staying below 2 degrees, we need to aim for 1.5 degrees anyway, and it is sensible to acknowledge that 2 degrees itself is hardly “safe”.

So, all told, a great outcome. Chapeau to French diplomacy.”

Diana Liverman, director of the University of Arizona’s Institute of the Environment is more measured in her assessment. She said that the Paris agreement is a “significant step in reducing the risks of anthropogenic climate change but it certainly does not eliminate them”.

“We still face serious impacts. The current national pledges (INDCs) for emission reductions take us above 2 degrees C. The agreement suggests these pledges may not be revised until 2018 by which time we will have burned even more fossil fuels with yet more commitment to warming.” 

3:08 pm - Civic society is divided on the ambition and success of the latest Paris agreement. 

At a press conference, Center for International Environmental Law spokespeople maintained that laguage around human rights and gender are too weak. Climate Action Network activists also criticised the text as not ambitious enough and protects developed countries’ interests.

But other groups were more positive. Dr. Andrew Steer, President & CEO, World Resources Institute, said in a statement:

“The City of Light is now the City of Hope for climate change. Leaders came to Paris with serious determination to get a strong climate agreement and that’s precisely what’s happened. While not sufficient to solve the problem alone, the agreement puts us on a path where a solution is possible.

“The Paris Agreement has the power to send loud, clear signals to economic markets that there’s no turning back from the transition to a zero-carbon economy. The agreement will be good for people, good for the economy, and good for the planet.” 

Jennifer Morgan, Global Director, Climate Program, World Resources Institute, added: “It took hard work, grit and guts, but countries have finally united around a historic agreement that marks a turning point on the climate crisis… The agreement is both ambitious and powered by the voices of the most vulnerable.

“Of course, like all tough negotiations, we cannot say we came away with everything we wanted. And there is much work to be done. The agreement includes clear signals: a commitment to come back to the table every five years to review and strengthen country commitments; a long-term signal about the inevitable shift to a zero-carbon economy; and financial support for vulnerable countries that will be scaled up over time.

2:45 pm - Here’s a useful comparison of the previous and current version of the Paris agreement, for those who are interested in the granular details.

2:20 pm - Reactions to the latest text are starting to be circulated.

WWF’s head of delegation Tasneem Essop issued the following statement:

“By including a long-term temperature goal of well below 2°C of warming with a reference to a 1.5°C goal, the latest draft text sends a strong signal that governments are committed to being in line with science.

“What we need now is for their actions, including emission reductions and finance, to add up to delivering on that goal. There are opportunities to do so built in the agreement – such as the facilitative dialogue in 2018 - that should be used to update current country pledges, and then further opportunities after 2020. Finance and emissions reductions pledges will need to be enhanced in a fair manner before 2020 to stand any chance of achieving the long term goal.

“A big concern is that there’s no guarantee of assistance for those who will suffer from immediate climate impacts, especially the poor and the vulnerable. The agreement does contain elements that create the opportunity to make governments actions stronger and stronger over time, in terms of mitigation, adaptation and finance. This is critical.”

Bill McKibben, Co-founder

“Every government seems now to recognize that the fossil fuel era must end and soon. But the power of the fossil fuel industry is reflected in the text, which drags out the transition so far that endless climate damage will be done. Since pace is the crucial question now, activists must redouble our efforts to weaken that industry. This didn’t save the planet but it may have saved the chance of saving the planet.” 

May Boeve, Executive Director

“This marks the end of the era of fossil fuels. There is no way to meet the targets laid out in this agreement without keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground. The text should send a clear signal to fossil fuel investors: divest now.

1:40 pm - The latest draft Paris agreement is released. Journalists rush to print out the 31-page document; conversations overheard discussing elements of the new text as everyone proceeds to analyse the latest changes.

1:00 pm - Meanwhile, in the last hour, activists have been busy.

Thousands took to the streets of Paris - in defiance of the national state of emergency that bans public protests - and created red lines along the major boulevard Avenue de la Grande Armée.

This was a peaceful way to honour the victims of climate change and a pledge to escalated action to protect the climate red lines, which negotiations alone will fail to secure, said, which led a coalition of NGOs in the protest.

People carried red flowers including more than 5,000 red tulips, opened hundreds of red umbrellas and unfurled two giant red 100 metre long banners, turning the crowd into a huge red line for a just and livable planet that stretched approximately 1 kilometre from Place de l’Étoile to Porte Maillot. The banners read “It’s up to us to keep it in the ground” and “Crime Climatique - Stop!”

A samba and brass band stopped playing when 30 foghorns marked the beginning of two minutes of silence for the victims of climate change, war and terror, during which protestors raised thousands of red flowers in the air.

The ‘Red Lines’ protest is one of the first major demonstrations since the tragic terrorist attacks in the city on 13th November. Activists announced a wave of nonviolent direct mass actions for May 2016 to confront some of the most dangerous fossil fuel projects on the planet and build support for ambitious renewable energy initiatives.  

Click here for more photos.

12:34 pm - Seen on Twitter:

12:28 pm - Fabius said the text is now being translated and delegates will have it no later than 1:30pm. He suggests everyone have lunch, and then the text will be distributed and work can start.

“We must not waste time. We can reconvene at 3:45pm.”

Delegates start to file out of the hall. Journalists take their headphones off. Everyone breathes.

12.25 pm - Hollande recalls the terrorist attacks in Paris:

“History is here. All the conditions have been met. We are in the home stretch… There will be no postponement. The decisive agreement is here and it is only you alone, and on behalf of the people you represent.

The 12 of December 2015 can be a message of life and I would be personally delighted and relieved. I would be proud that this message is launched from here because Paris was attacked almost a month ago. Frnace asks and calls upon you to adopt the first universal agremeent on climate.

“You have the opportunity to change the world. You have to grasp it.”

12.16 pm - French president Francois Hollande addresses the audience. He thanks Fabius for playing a “considerable role to bring parties together and to reconcile what seemed irreconcilable.”

He tells delegates: “Do we want an agreement? An agreement that did not see the light of day at Copenhagen… the gridlock that cast a pall of doubt over the international community. It is the work you have done over the past montths and past days - only you have the answer to that question.

“We need to take the last step. The text is ambitious but also realistic. It reconciles responsibility - especially that of the richest countries - at the same time it includes differentation. It gives the poorest countries the means they have been promised.

The text will be the first universal agreement in the history of climate negotiations. You make a choice. A choice for your country, for your country and for the world… It will be a leap for mankind.”

“The agreement will not be perfect everyone, if everyone reads it with only his or her interest in mind. What brings us together is the planet itself… faced with climate change, we have a common destiny.”  

12:11 pm - UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon addresses the hall. Journalists are all listening to the address at the media centre as the hall is not opened to media access. Everyone’s huddled over their screens wearing headphones and listening intently.

Ban thanks the French presidency for “guiding the climate negotiations so successfuly and skillfully over the past year”. “We have come to the final moment of a long journey…the document is historic (and) promises to set the world on a new low-carbon path.”

“Let us now finish the job. The whole world is watching…. National interests are better served in acting in global interests and solidarity.”

12.07 pm - During his speech, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says: “Nobody wants a repeat of Copenhagen… we have to be aware of destructive elements.”

“Today, the planets are aligned. Some cherished the hope the temporary failure will be overcome. Today, if we were to fail, how can we rebuild this hope? Trust and the ability to achieve an agreement will be irrevocably lost.

This is what is at stake. None of us should forget this. Nor will our children forgive us… I call on all of you to remember - at the opening of the conference - what mandate did the children give us? To conclude this agreement and right now, when we have the fate of the agreement in our hands.

Citing Nelson Mandela, he says “None of us can succeed alone.”

11:54 am - French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius opens the final plenary, seated in between UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon on his left and French president Francois Hollande on his right. 

“We are almost at end of path and starting on another,” he says. “During this Paris conference, we wanted the conditions to be as good as possible, I announced a work method involving transparency, ambition and a search for compromise… where all parties can be heard and understood. I hope this is the case and we have managed that.”

“This text is a balanced text. It contains the principle elements that we feel… is differentiated, fair, durable, dynamic and legally binding.”

If adopted, this agreement will be a turning point, says Fabius. “In the course of our discussions, each party put forward its own proposals and put forward its own red lines, of course not every country will gain everything they wanted.”

“This text is the best possible balance. Powerful, but delicate. That will enable each country to go home with their head held high and having achieved something important.”

11.30 am - Government officials from 196 nations, parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, are filing into the Le Seine plenary hall for the closing Comite de Paris meeting at Le Bourget in Paris.

After 12 days of intense wrangling, negotiators have supposedly come to a final version of a historic Paris agreement that the French presidency will present at this plenary. The deal - if approved by every nation - will be the result of two decades of hard negotiation and expert diplomacy, and will mark a turning point in history in which all countries will cooperate to slow climate change.

This will effectively spell the beginning of the end of the oil age and the dawn of the renewables era. The draft Paris agreement is expected to outline an ambition to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degree Celsius, including efforts to further cap it at 1.5 degree Celsius, outline sources of finance on how to help developing nations get there and a review and monitoring system to improve and track global efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Stay tuned for more as we bring you updates! 

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