Paris climate summit closes with agreement seen as ‘indirectly’ boosting renewable energy

Paris climate summit closes with agreement seen as ‘indirectly’ boosting renewable energy

By our correspondent in Paris Eric J. Lyman (@EricJLyman)
PARIS – Representatives from almost 200 countries — working a day longer than scheduled — on Saturday agreed to what will be the world’s first-ever global agreement on climate change.

The deal was met by a standing ovation from exhausted negotiators and observers, many crying, hugging each other, and snapping photos to preserve the moment.

“You have done it,” a proud French President Francois Hollande told the plenary. “You have succeeded where six years ago there was failure” — a reference to the 2009 Copenhagen summit that collapsed in failure — “you have succeeded where even this year there was still a high level of skepticism. And I am proud that you have done it in Paris.”

The newly Paris Agreement sets a global goal of keeping worldwide temperature rise to “well below 2 degrees” compared to pre-industrial levels, it lays out a plan for making emissions reduction pledges stronger over time, and it says that rich countries should provide at least $100 billion per year to adapt to the impacts of climate change and make their economies more resilient.

Environmentalists gave the agreement a mixed review.

“The wheel of climate action turns slowly, but in Paris it has turned,” said Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International. “Now we have to put [the agreement] into action.”

But Naidoo went on to predict: “The deal will put the fossil fuel industry on the wrong side of history.”

The impacts on energy producers are mostly indirect in the agreement. The text does call for an “enhanced deployment of renewable energy,” but experts say that the long-term temperature goals and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will force countries to incentivize clean energy generation in order to meet the stated targets.

“There is no doubt that the implementation of the Paris Agreement and its architecture will be a big boost for renewable energy companies,” Christiana Figueres, the UN’s top climate change official said.

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