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Climate change negotiations continue in Paris and are expected to finish tomorrow (Saturday, 12th December). An agreement appears to be on the horizon. However, the level of ambition within whatever agreement emerges remains uncertain.

Address by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny

The 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP-21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change opened on 30th November with statements delivered by global leaders. An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D. in his address said that “Ireland is determined to play its part. We have committed, with our EU partners, to a collective target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030.”

Mr. Kenny provided a forthright and positive assessment of the contribution agriculture can play in meeting climate change and food security objectives by stating that “One really significant area for Ireland is our valuable and already efficient agriculture sector. Through a series of programmes, like carbon foot-printing 43,500 beef farms and 18,000 dairy farms, we are driving economic and environmental efficiency in agriculture and achieving results that we believe are both transferable and scalable.”

The negotiations so far:

Once global leaders departed, the negotiations began in earnest on the draft text. The latest version, published at 9pm on Thursday, 10th December includes the following key aspects:

  • Level of Ambition

The most contentious issue throughout the two weeks in Paris is the level of ambition to be included in the final agreement. The latest draft agreement states that the purpose of the agreement is to “hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C, recognizing that this would significantly reduce risks and impacts of climate change”.

  • 5 year review clause

The agreement will include a 5 year review clause. This will ensure that momentum behind cutting carbon emissions is continued in the years ahead, as the UN has recognised that the current commitments by nations and regions known as INDC’s will limit global temperature rises to 2.7 degrees C. These INDC commitments includes the EU’s position to reduce GHG emissions by 40% by 2030. Other nations such as the US has committed to reduce GHG emissions by 26-28% by 2030, while China has committed to peak its emissions by 2030. Meanwhile, New Zealand will reduce its GHG emissions by a mere 11% by 2030.

  • Food Security

The draft agreement under Article 2 includes a significant and welcome reference to food security. The reality is that by 2050, the planet will have over 9.7 billion inhabitants and by 2100 over 11 billion people. Article 2 (b.) states that the purpose of the draft agreement is “Increase the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production”.

  • Climate Finance

Another key aspect to the agreement is climate finance, with richer nations expected to provide over $100 billion annually to help developing nations deal with the negative effects of climate change.

By Eamonn Farrell

Agri & Food Policy Executive