COP 21 and the Paris Agreement: A Force Awakened

Judged against low expectations and the collective trauma of Copenhagen 2009, the acceptance of the global and legally binding Paris Agreement at the closing day of the UN Climate Change Convention‘s Conference of the Parties (COP) 21 is a historical moment. It achieves a goal long believed unattainable on the long road from Bali (2007) via Durban (2011). It sends a powerful signal that global agreement on such a painful structural transformation is possible. Yet, no government seemed to be willing or able to agree on the specifics. Judged against the enormity of the challenge and the needs and pressure from people on the ground, the Paris Agreement can only be called a disappointment. Citizens around the world have yet to find out whether the Paris Agreement can be the springboard for lasting policy changes on the ground. This policy analysis assesses the commitments governments were willing to make in the Paris Agreement critically against what would be required to anchor the global climate deal in climate justice and a human rights-based approach.

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