Mixed reactions in Finland to Paris climate accord

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French President Francois Hollande, right, French Foreign Minister and president of the COP21 Laurent Fabius, center, and United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon applaud after the final conference at the COP21, the United Nations conference on climate change, in Le Bourget, north of Paris, Saturday, Dec.12, 2015. Governments have adopted a global agreement that for the first time asks all countries to reduce or rein in their greenhouse gas emissions. (Francois Mori/AP)
French President Francois Hollande, right, French Foreign Minister and president of the COP21 Laurent Fabius, center, and United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon applaud after the final conference at the COP21, the United Nations conference on climate change, in Le Bourget, north of Paris, Saturday, Dec.12, 2015. Governments have adopted a global agreement that for the first time asks all countries to reduce or rein in their greenhouse gas emissions. (Francois Mori/AP)
Nearly 200 world leaders celebrated an early Christmas in Paris Saturday after signing an unprecedented pact to limit global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

While politicians and business leaders praised the agreement, some NGOs said it still didn’t go far enough.

A group of 195 nations reached a landmark agreement to curb climate change in Paris Saturday. Specifically, the deal will see nations cooperate to keep “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 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.”

Finland’s main private sector business lobby the EK described the recently-concluded climate talks as a good opportunity, adding that the agreement is an important step towards a more balanced competitive environment and increased demand for clean technology.

The agriculture and forestry group MTK said it was pleased to see that the industry’s role as a food producer had been written into the agreement. More importantly there was final recognition of its crucial role in binding carbon emissions.

Critics not fully satisfied

The accord had its critics – NGOs weren’t fully satisfied with yesterday’s climate pact. Finnish environmental and development organisations issued a joint statement last night, in which they said the accord’s goals and stated measures are at odds.

They pointed out that national emission reductions targets were voluntary – and probably wouldn’t be enough to accomplish the goal of limiting global temperature increases to below 1.5 degrees during this century. Rather they said, we could see a rise of nearly three degrees without binding measures.

The groups also noted that the warming goals mean that EU and Finnish emissions targets are now dated and would need to be tightened post-Paris. As a result, governments, cities and the private sector would have to roll out concrete and aggressive actions.

On Saturday, head of the Finnish Meteorological Institute Petteri Taalas said that Paris summit goal was “unrealistic” and difficult to attain. He warned that climate change would cause considerable adversity by driving extreme weather.

Agriculture Minister positive on talks

Forestry and Agriculture Minister Kimmo Tiillikainen adopted a more pragmatic tone, saying the climate accord was “expected, inevitable and revolutionary”, although “not perfect”.

He noted that the agreement showed that the world was now ready to do what it had failed to accomplish before.

Apart from the central goal of limiting temperature increases, the accord also clearly mentions the role conservation and sustainable forest management in offsetting the impact of human actions on the planet.

It also calls on developed countries to help foot the bill for cleaning up the fallout from climate-driven disasters in developing countries – although it is not a legally binding target. A proposed fund is also meant to incentivise developing countries to adopt renewable energy sources rather than coal or oil.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: COP21 – View from Canada’s Northwest Territories, Eye on the Arctic

Finland:  Finland at COP21: ‘Small steps will no longer do’, Yle News

Greenland: Will COP21 turn down heat on Arctic?, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Positive reaction to climate deal in Sweden, Radio Sweden

United States:  Cleaner atmosphere means more Arctic ice melt: study, Alaska Dispatch News

 

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