Sweden cheers Paris climate change deal

Swedish prime minister, Stefan Löfven celebrated a historic accord adopted in Paris on Saturday to stop global warming, a deal that offers hope that humanity can avert catastrophic climate change and usher in an energy revolution.

Sweden cheers Paris climate change deal
French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius (C), celebrates with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon (2-L) and France's President Francois Hollande (R) after the adoption of the agreement. Photo: AP

“We finally have a global climate agreement in place,” Swedish prime minister, Stefan Löfven, said in a statement on Saturday night.

“It is the result of long and hard negotiations. Now there must be great efforts to achieve emissions reductions. Sweden has been very active in the negotiations and had an important role in reaching solutions that both rich and poor countries have been able to accept.”

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had earlier ended nearly a fortnight of gruelling UN negotiations on the outskirts of Paris with the bang of a gavel, marking consensus among the ministers, who stood for several minutes to clap and shout their joy, with some shedding tears of relief.

“I see the room, I see the reaction is positive, I hear no objection. The Paris climate accord is adopted,” declared Fabius, the president of the talks.

The post-2020 Paris Agreement ends decades-long rows between rich and poor nations over how to carry out what will be a multi-trillion-dollar campaign to cap global warming and cope with the impact of a shifting climate.

With 2015 forecast to be the hottest year on record, world leaders and scientists had said the accord was vital for capping rising temperatures and averting the most calamitous effects of climate change.

Without urgent action, they warned, mankind faced increasingly severe droughts, floods and storms, and rising seas that would engulf islands and coastal areas populated by hundreds of millions of people.

READ ALSO: Key points of the UN climate accord

“The Paris agreement establishes the enduring framework the world needs to solve the climate crisis,” US President Barack Obama said.
“We came together around the strong agreement the world needed. We met the moment.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel added: “Paris will always be connected with this historic turning point in climate policy.”

Sweden's prime minister, Stefan Löfven, also praised the Swedish delegation leader at COP21, the country's deputy prime minister, Åsa Romson.

“I congratulate the climate and environment minister, Åsa Romson, Sweden's climate negotiator, and the whole of the Swedish delegation for their good work,” he said.

Löfven stated that the Swedish government's strategy in the negotiations had been for Sweden to be a leader and to build coalitions between countries with high ambitions for the agreement and the countries most vulnerable to climate impacts.

“The strategy has been successful. We have highlighted our efforts to become one of the world's first fossil fuel-free countries and Åsa was given responsibility to mediate difficult questions.”

Romson was clearly delighted with the deal.

“I'm thrilled to finally see a climate change agreement,” she told the Swedish news agency, TT, from Paris.

“This is historic. There should have been an agreement ten years ago, but I am happy and proud of the outcome of this conference. The terms were never watered down in the process, which is what usually happens,” Romson said.

The crux of the fight entails slashing or eliminating the use of coal, oil and gas for energy, which has largely powered prosperity since the Industrial Revolution.

The burning of those fossil fuels releases invisible greenhouse gases, which cause the planet to warm and disrupt Earth's delicate climate system.

Ending the vicious circle requires a switch to cleaner sources, such as solar and wind, and improving energy efficiency. Some nations are also aggressively pursuing nuclear power, which does not emit greenhouse gases.

The Paris accord sets a target of limiting warming of the planet to “well below” 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) compared with the Industrial Revolution, while aiming for an even more ambitious goal of 1.5C.

To do so, emissions of greenhouse gases will need to peak “as soon as possible”, followed by rapid reductions, the agreement states.

The world has already warmed by almost 1C, which has caused major problems in dry developing countries, according to scientists.