Socialist International greets Paris Agreement

14 December 2015

The Socialist International enthusiastically welcomes the Paris Agreement, approved unanimously by almost 200 countries at the COP21 climate change conference in Paris on Saturday.  A universal agreement on this scale is unprecedented, and the end result of more than 20 years of climate talks under the UNFCCC. Its adoption signals a consensus among all countries of the world about the serious and immediate threat posed by climate change, and a recognition that concerted action is required by all countries to address its causes.

The SI welcomes in particular the new commitment to keep temperature rises “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”. The agreement also underlines the importance of equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in the implementation of the agreement, reflecting the diversity of national circumstances.

Negotiations in Paris have succeeded where previous summits have fallen short, and it is important to recognise the hard diplomatic work over many days and nights that has gone into making an agreement happen. The SI warmly congratulates President François Hollande, who created the political conditions for this Conference in Paris to be the defining moment for this crucial Agreement, and applauds the exceptional role played by COP21 president Laurent Fabius, without whose tireless efforts, experience and leadership in the negotiation process, an agreement would not have been possible. We equally recognise the dedication and commitment of Ségolène Royal, an SI vice-president and French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy.

The agreement is a turning point in the fight against climate change, but will require sustained effort and commitment in its implementation. It equally remains the case that despite the ambition to work towards limiting global temperature rises to 1.5°C, the pledges made by countries to date through their INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) are insufficient to even reach the higher target of a 2°C rise. In this regard, the newly agreed review mechanism, whereby a global stocktake will take place every five years from 2023, is of vital importance. This five-yearly review must be used not only to monitor the progress made towards existing targets, but also to increase ambition and bring about progressively tighter emissions reductions.

Equally important is the commitment to mobilise climate finance of USD 100 billion per annum up to 2025. The Agreement echoes the view of the SI that developed countries should bear the most responsibility for climate finance, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries. We welcome the commitment to set a new collective quantified goal prior to 2025 from a floor of USD 100 billion, which will take into account the needs of developing countries at that time.

The SI now calls on all countries, having signed the accord, to enshrine their obligations under the Paris Agreement in their national legislation as a further sign of their commitment to honouring each and every one of the promises made at COP21. Doing so will further strengthen this historic agreement and make it more binding.

The SI has long been actively engaged in the search for a global response to climate change, both through the work of its Commission for a Sustainable World Society and with the inclusion of the issue on the agenda of its Council and Congress meetings, most recently in Luanda in November. SI member parties in government have been encouraged to work together for an outcome with the social democratic principle of climate justice at its heart, the importance of which was recognised in the Paris Agreement. The SI was present at the COP21 through its President and its Secretary General, and an informal exchange of views took place with ministers, heads of delegation and other political representatives attending the COP21 from parties belonging to the Socialist International where these principles were reaffirmed.

If nations continue to show the political will that was needed to reach an agreement in Paris, the SI believes that this will mark the end of the age of fossil fuels and a definitive step towards a zero-carbon future. The world is now on a clear pathway to a greener, fairer and more sustainable planet and the SI and its member parties will continue to be at the forefront of efforts to deliver the promises made in Paris in their entirety.