#COP21: Paris pact draws cheers, but what's next?

LE BOURGET, France (UPDATED) – It’s a deal. And it was history in the making.

On Saturday evening, December 12, world leaders finally adopted a new climate agreement in Paris, leaving delegates, observers, members of civil society, and even journalists cheering.

The agreement comes after two weeks of intense negotiations here. Beyond the walls of the conference, thousands of advocates were also calling for a fair and inclusive climate agreement.

Various sectors welcomed the deal, but others said what happens next is equally important.

"It sometimes seems that the countries of the United Nations can unite on nothing, but nearly two hundred countries have come together and agreed on a deal," said Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo. (READ: Full text of the agreement)

Naidoo, however, stressed that the Paris agreement is only the first step of many.

“The Paris Agreement is only one step on long a road, and there are parts of it that frustrate and disappoint me, but it is progress. This deal alone won’t dig us out the hole we’re in, but it makes the sides less steep," he added.

“The deal sets out the objective of limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees, but the emissions targets on the table take us closer to 3 degrees. That’s a critical problem, but it’s one with a solution,” he continued. 

Clean technology

Naidoo encouraged governments to now focus on renewable energy and clean technology. Greenpeace urged governments to stop funding fossil fuels and end deforestation by 2020.

“This is not a moment for triumphalism given the lives that have been lost already as a result of climate impacts, and the lives that are on the precipice as temperatures rise. This is a time for urgent action.”

“The climate clock is ticking and the window of opportunity is closing fast,” he said.

But not everyone is pleased with the Paris agreement.

Greenpeace also argued that indigenous people are not given the “protection they deserve” in the text despite being present in the preamble and adaptation section.

Lucy Cadena of the Friends of the Earth International said that Paris has “failed.”

“If the outcome of the Paris climate summit was meant to keep the window open for a 1.5 degree temperature limit – crucial if we are to protect the most vulnerable people from the worst impacts, and to avoid runaway climate change – then Paris has failed.” 

“But we must remember that the window is not quite closed,” Cadena added. “The energy transformation has long been underway and the huge mobilisations on the streets of Paris today show us who is truly leading us towards climate justice.”

Rodne Galicha of Aksyon Klima was also left wanting more. He commended the efforts of the French leadership, the Philippine delegation, and civil societies. However, he wished a goal lower than 1.5C could have been set.

Imbalance in deal?

"Historical responsibility, liability and compensation are not addressed, hence, most vulnerable countries which experienced massive losses and damages may be on the crossroads," Galicha added.

Although seemingly ambitious, Aksyon Klima saw a "great imbalance" in the deal, citing the absence of a clear finance mechanism for loss and damage.

"This is the road through Paris and the agreement must not end in Paris. Who among the candidates in the next elections would fully embrace the challenge of the Paris agreement, anyone?"

Some groups, however, were more satisfied.

International non-profit organization, The Climate Group called the Paris agreement a “victory for science and vision,”

“Twenty years of lengthy, challenging climate negotiations have finally come to fruition here under the skilful expertise and diplomacy of the French Government and the UNFCCC. It gives us the long term climate goal we wanted, and a clear roadmap on how to get there,” Mark Kenber, head of the Climate Group, said.

'Economic catalyst'

The Wold Bank was also full of praises for the historic agreement, saying it is ready to help "immediately" to realize the vision born in Paris.

Some members of the business sector were also content with the results. “This is a remarkable diplomatic settlement and a historic economic catalyst," said Nigel Topping of We Mean Business, an international coalition working with companies on climate action.

As the night unfolds, various civil society groups are yet to give their full statement on the newly adopted agreement.

Currently, world leaders are giving their official statements on what had just happened.

Some were also surprised that the negotiations ended quite quickly compared to previous years, extending only a day.

With the climate talks now over, eyes are now not only on Paris, but the world. What will happen next? – Rappler.com