COP21 – A week in review

8 December 2015

The world’s leaders have gathered in Paris for the UN climate change conference. Over the past week we’ve been watching the news and business communities closely to identify the most notable things to come out of the conference.

What follows is our seven top takeaways from COP21 so far.

  1. Release of the final proposed Draft Agreement

Saturday morning saw the release of the final draft agreement – a big step up on the draft released the Thursday prior. 

The long term goal remains to keep global temperatures “below 1.5C or well below 2C” despite reports of countries trying to block this.

The final agreement is expected to include key concepts such as carbon pricing, education, land use, sustainable development, food security and human rights including: gender, the empowerment of women, health and indigenous people, historical responsibility, intergenerational equity, the integrity of ecosystems and the just transitions of workforces.

You can read a full analysis of the draft agreement released on Thursday here and the proposed draft agreement from Saturday morning here.

Source: Deconstructing Paris

  1. Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition

Scores of companies are pushing for a price on carbon at the Paris talks, although the concept and detail remain controversial. The coalition plans to build an evidence base for the best carbon pricing systems already in place. Businesses such as Ernst & Young, Statoil, Natura, Philips and Zenith bank are part of the coalition.

Source: Green Biz

  1. Corporations that are leading the charge against climate change

 COP 21 image

  1. Unilever CEO Paul Polman commits to renewable energy by 2030 and urges politicians to make an agreement

In a column for the We Mean Business Coalition Unilever CEO Paul Polman has urged governments to do whatever it takes to combat climate change.

Unilever’s commitments include becoming carbon positive in its operations by 2030, which includes sourcing 100 per cent of the corporation’s energy, across its operations, from renewable sources by 2030.

He says that governments have more support than ever from businesses to come to an agreement and that “businesses like ours are calling on governments to commit to net zero emissions by 2050, necessary to confidently avoid 2C warming”.

If governments lead the way with a long term plan, says Paul, then the actions of businesses will be accelerated.

Source: We Mean Business Coalition

  1. Investors are shifting funds from fossil fuel to renewable energy

More than 500 institutions holding $3.4 trillion USD in assets have committed to divesting from fossil fuels. That number has jumped from 181 institutions in 2014.

This comes as a sign that investors are reading the writing on the wall and dramatically shifting capital from fossil fuels and into renewable energy.

The institutions are made up of investment funds, cities and parliaments (namely the French Parliament) and join other declarations of divestment from institutions such as Dutch pension fund PFZW, which committed to divest from fossil fuel companies and reduce investments in other fossil fuel companies, and European insurance company Allianz, which divested $630 million USD of its own capital investment portfolio from coal.

Source: Reuters 

  1. Obama pledges aid to island nations

President Obama has pledged aid to the vulnerable island nations that could be submerged by climate change. In an interview with the Washington Post Obama said, “Their populations are among the most vulnerable to the ravages of climate change. Some of their nations could disappear entirely and as weather patterns change, we might deal with tens of millions of climate refugees in the Asia Pacific region”.

The United States has committed $52 million USD to the poorest nations in order to help them deal with climate change. The White House also announced that it would contribute a total of $30 million to insurance risk pools in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

Source: Washington Post

  1. New Zealand wins the first of COP 21 Fossil Award on day one

The prestigious award given only to those countries doing the absolute worst for climate change was awarded to New Zealand on the first day of the talks .

We can add this to our collection of Fossil Awards taken home at Qatar in 2012. Watch the video to find out why New Zealand won.

Climate Action Network International said in a press release: Prime Minister John Key showed a degree of hypocrisy by claiming, at a Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform event, that New Zealand is a leader on fossil fuel subsidy abolition – despite the country’s fossil fuel production subsidies have increasing (sic) seven-fold since his election in 2008.

You can follow reporting on the content of each session day by day on the Earth Negotiations Bulletin website: