The deal struck at United Nations climate talks requires an overhaul of historic proportions for energy policies worldwide and a huge investment in cleaning up the pollution now damaging the Earth’s atmosphere.
Targets outlined in the agreement on Saturday, involving 195 countries, will require $16.5 trillion of spending on renewables and efficiency through 2030, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). To accomplish that, governments will have to offer incentives for clean energy production, scale back support for fossil fuels like oil, make emissions more costly, and reduce deforestation. The changes will touch industries from transport to construction, and encourage people to change their behaviour.
“The strength of the agreement is that it allows a thousand policy flowers to bloom,” Paul Bledsoe, a climate aide during US President Bill Clinton’s administration, said in an interview in Paris, where the deal was sealed. “This sends a powerful economic signal that fossil fuels will be saddled with financial and legal premiums to remain part of the energy mix, and clean energy will enjoy subsidies.”
The deal aims to limit the global temperature increase since the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), while calling on nations to “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.” That more ambitious goal implies vast cuts to emissions from burning fossil fuels.