COP 21: A Round-Up

Analysis by Kirsten WILLIAMS

As the exhausted and overworked delegations at the UN’s 21st annual climate conference came to an agreement, the world’s media erupted into a frenzy of analysis and commentary. After two solid weeks of negotiations between 196 countries, a deal was finally struck last week, with the aim of curbing global warming to 2°C by the end of the century. Young Europeans Network have rounded up the best of the opinion articles on the deal.

Paris was the host for this year's United Nations Climate Change Conference - Public Domain
Paris was the host for this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference – Public Domain has led the crowd of optimists, pointing out the power of peer pressure and envisaging a future of incentives and tax breaks for those who stick to the limits. Journalist Daniel Gross assures his reader that Paris will usher in a new era of lower-emissions technologies. The Irish Times agreed, calling COP21 a “real turning point in history”. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times quoted environmental activist Bill McKibben as saying that the accord “didn’t save the planet, but may have saved the chance of saving the planet”.

The Independent, too, praises the agreement with a plea to the British government to stick to its promises as “a country that can claim to be at the forefront not only of carbon emissions themselves…but also of the science of understanding of what they do to our ecosphere”.

The New York Times cautiously welcomed the deal, admitting that though it went only half as far as it should have done, the negotiations in Paris represented a watershed moment that seemed impossible only a few years ago.  

The agreement was not met with enthusiasm from all sides, however. The Guardian interviewed James Hansen, the “father of climate change”, who angrily criticised the deal as “a fraud, a fake”. He argued that as long as fossil fuels remain the cheapest form of fuel, they will be burned, at the expense of the planet. The International Business Times ran an interview with Indian NGO Centre for Science and Environment, which called the deal an “unambitious and weak compromise”.

The Huffington Post also attacked governments’ “suicidal defence” of traditional automobiles, and argued that the deal lacks the sense of urgency that is really necessary, given the steady onset of disastrous climate change.  

Finally, a short POLITICO article on the key takeaways from COP 21 is a useful, neutral conclusion to the talks, looking at the power players and alliances during the negotiations.

The key message from our own roundup is that much more needs to be done to halt global warming – if it isn’t too late already. Even the most optimistic commentators admit that we have wasted far too much time with our heads buried in the sands. Young Europeans Network will continue to monitor the first steps of post-deal progress and report back early next year.


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One thought on “COP 21: A Round-Up

  1. Excellent summary. Well done. My problem with Prof HANSON is he’s so critical of policies that try to take us forward – as for him they’re never enough – but moving forward step-wise has to be better than not moving forward at all. Paris was a signifiant step forward, and calling it a fraud and a fake is as misleading as saying it’s enough.


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