On Saturday, November 13, Laurent Fabius announced the end of the summit and the successful signing of what will henceforth be known as the “Paris Agreement”. Since then, official statements, press releases, reviews and articles have scrutinized the body of the agreement, and the reactions could not have been more diverse.

From the “historic agreement” and “radical change of discourse” announced by the ministers at the Bourget on Saturday night, to the absolute despair and the “global failure” and “diplomatic scam” that has been announced by numerous activist groups: the reactions could not have been more diverse, disparate and opposed. Couldn’t it be that between these black and white perceptions, reality lies somewhere on the gray spectrum?

Let’s start by reviewing the strengths of the deal:

Paris agreement 1+2International consensus: for the first time, all the countries participating in the summit have agreed on the causes of climate change and the need to act decisively on it. h2>

Paris agreement 2< strong>Change in political discourse: Until Copenhagen, there were still major disagreements. This has changed, and now the discourse focuses on acting to solve the problem and the search for solutions.

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Binding agreement: Countries that ratify the agreement will be legally bound by it. However, it is still to be defined what type of sanctions will be applied to those who do not comply with what was promised.

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Fundraising: These two weeks have held the promise of major investments in mitigation and adaptation to climate change. The agreement includes the mobilization of 100,000 million dollars by 2020.

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Recognition of the role of forests: the role of forest conservation and restoration in the fight against climate change is expressly recognized in the text.

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Differentiated responsibilities: The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is still present in the agreement. This point is extremely important to guarantee justice in the process of global change that is coming, and to guarantee cooperation on equal terms from all countries. This also carries with it the responsibility of developed countries to take the lead and pay for the damage caused.

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The beginning of the end of fossil fuels: without a doubt, the agreement marks the beginning of a change at the planetary level, because it identifies fossil fuels as the origin of the problem. Any solution will therefore depend on the decarbonization of the economy.

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Review every five years: the possibility of reviewing and updating the agreement every five years will make it possible to update the commitments according to new scientific evidence and technological advances, at the same time that it will allow the ambition of national commitments.

But, on the other hand, what has gone wrong? What was expected from this summit and what has not been achieved? Let’s take a look at the non-results.

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“Soft Law”. Although the 1.5ºC limit is not the main objective of the agreement, it is already included in it. This already means diplomatic pressure, especially as some countries begin to work in that direction, which will lead to a group pressure effect on the rest. In international relations, this is known as “soft law”, or soft law, because even if you do not act under coercion, you can achieve the objectives.

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Lack of a concrete plan of action. Despite the fact that the goal is set (not to exceed a 2ºC increase in temperature and, ideally, 1.5ºC), the document does not explain how this objective is going to be achieved.

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The measures to be implemented by the different countries continue to be based on voluntary commitments. These commitments, which were sent by the different countries before the summit (the so-called INDCs, or “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions”, or nationally determined contributions) are not ambitious enough right now, and would mean an increase global temperature of 3ºC.

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Insufficient funds. According to the International Energy Agency, 1 trillion dollars (1,000,000 million) would be needed for the transformation towards an economy without fossil fuels. However, the amount committed so far is one tenth, which will be divided between mitigation and adaptation.

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Lack of immediate action. The agreement itself and the voluntary contributions at the national level (the INDCs) will not enter into force until 2020. Four long years of hiatus in the fight against climate change. Clearly an excessive amount of time.

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Oceans don’t exist. The role of the oceans as a carbon sink and in regulating the global climate is not recognized in the treaty. In the same way, aviation and maritime traffic have also been excluded, two sectors that emit as much as a whole as Germany.

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Citizens, the great excluded. With climate change scenarios in which a billion people could be displaced by rising water levels alone, the absence of so-called “climate refugees” in the agreement has also drawn the attention of activists.

In conclusion, we can say that the agreement is undoubtedly revolutionary, as it marks a before and after in global environmental and climate policy, with an international agreement and unprecedented political will.

However, despite its successes, it has significant gaps that still need to be resolved if the agreement is to achieve the objectives it has set. There is a lot of work ahead, both for civil society, the private sector, regional and national governments and international organizations.

Time to get down to business.

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