In a momentous vote, the Conference of Parties (COP21), comprised of representatives from 195 countries around the world, has agreed to measures that aim to limit global warming to 2 degrees -- with an 'ideal' target of not more than 1.5 degrees over pre-industrial levels.
University of Queensland Global Change Institute Director Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg said the Australian Government was to be congratulated for constructive contributions to the Paris negotiations, particularly in Australia's role as chair of the Umbrella Group of countries.
In the past, the Umbrella Group bloc had been seen as a potential sticking point for any broad agreement because it traditionally included maverick countries such as the Russian Federation, and the USA.
“The road ahead won’t be easy but this is an historic agreement that takes a realistic approach to the seriousness of the situation,” Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.
“Success will rely on the road being travelled in a spirit of cooperation between the public, private and community sectors.”
UQ’s Associate Professor Matt McDonald said that although the final agreement ruled out liability or compensation arising from loss and damage, the fact that these two elements were included as part of the agreement was still significant.
“It is the first time loss and damage has appeared in an international climate agreement, and is ultimately recognition of the inevitability of climate impacts and their disproportionate effects on the world’s poorest,” Dr McDonald said.
Professor Hoegh-Guldberg has actively campaigned for more than a decade to raise awareness of the urgent need to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees over pre-Industrial levels.
“The future is here, and Australia is well positioned to embrace it,” Professor Hoegh-Guldberg said.
Discussion on Australia's role at COP21 (The Conversation)
Download the 2015 'Paris Agreement' (PDF, 500 Kb)