On 11 December 2015, the United Nations 21st Conference of Parties closed its doors. The outcome of this conference is a historical agreement that recognizes the threat for humankind deriving from potentially irreversible climatic change that requires both a wide collaboration among countries and acceleration in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Negotiators from about 200 countries signed the agreement.

In the name of the right to health, right of indigenous people, local communities, migrants, vulnerable people, in the name of gender and international equity, the signing Parties take charge to take action against climate change. The agreement sets to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial times a new goal for the mitigation of climate. This temperature limit is considered still safe enough to avert the worst damages deriving by climate change including on food production.  But a further ambitious goal is to reach a net zero emission balance in the long run. Furthermore, the agreement aims to make the finance flow consistent towards a climate-resilient development.

  • In this context, the Parties have to communicate the national contributions and all the necessary information to have a detailed vision of the scope, assumptions, methodological approach for cutting anthropogenic emissions and facilitating clarity and transparency. Among others, the Parties have to provide a base year as reference point and time frames to estimate the decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and removals and, by 2020, mid-century and long-term plans for reducing emissions. In the first half of 2016 the COP will institute: a public registry for recording the nationally intended contributions, a subsidiary body to support the Parties in using the public registry, and an ad hoc working group will be formed to offer Parties a guidance for accounting their emission reduction. The working group will be supporting the Parties, among others, in the accounting of emission reduction and removals based on common methodologies and metrics developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A commission will revise achievements and goals every five years in order to verify that countries are fulfilling the intended contributions.
  • Also developing countries are called to participate to mitigation. The Adaptation Committee and the Least Developed Countries Expert Group will support developing countries in order to recognize their mitigation effort. Furthermore, the Adaptation Committee will consider methodology to assess adaptation needs for developing countries without placing on their shoulders undue loads. Moreover, the Standing Commission for Finance and other relevant institutions will support developing countries – also financially – for adapting to climate change.
  • The agreement reports to prosecute with the application of the Warsaw International “Loss and Damage” mechanism.
  • Financial resources will be allocated to developing countries with the aim to enhance the implementation of adaptation and mitigation plans, strategies and regulations. Furthermore, the agreement recognizes the importance of results-based payments for the implementation of policies or for actions against deforestation and forest degradation.
  • The COP establishes the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice in order to make recommendations and to support the framework in the enhancement of technology action plans and projects-idea for bankable plans.
  • The COP establishes a Committee on Capacity –building for developing countries. Furthermore, it launches a working plan for 2016-2020 to assess how to enhance synergies and global, regional, national and subnational cooperation to implement capacity-building.
  • The COP will organize an ad hoc working group to detect the sources of input for the global stocktake.

About Tiziana Susca

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Edinburgh Napier University. My research interests are: climate change, environmental assessment, urban studies, assessment of urban ecosystem services with a specific interest in broadening Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) application to the evaluation of the environmental and urban policies. From 2014 to 2016 I was research associate at Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing in Berlin (Germany). In 2013 I was a Dahrendorf postdoctoral fellow in the working group on Infrastructures and Climate Change. In 2012 I was research fellow at the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) in Bologna, Italy. On March 2011 I earned a Ph.D. in Engineering at Polytechnic University of Bari (Italy) with an inter-disciplinary thesis on LCA focused on the implementation of the LCA methodology to include the effect of variation in urban albedo on climate. During my Ph.D., I was visiting scholar at Columbia University’s Center for Climate Systems Research, based at NASA-Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, a world leading institution in climate research. In 2012 I obtained from Urban Environmental Pollution 2012 (Elsevier) the Young Research Scientist Award for my research. In the same year I got a sponsorship from the European Space Agency (ESA) to present my research at NASA´s International Workshop on Environmental and Alternative Energy held in Greenbelt, Maryland (USA).
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