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A consensus among nations was reached in Paris last Saturday. The agreement has received mixed reviews among the general public with some praising COP21 as the start of a new era of climate action and others criticizing the agreement as weak and incomplete.

The full 31-page draft document can be found here. If you aren’t keen to reading the full document, the CBC and World Resources Institute have outlined five key points of the agreement, complete with an infographic from the WRI.

Some key elements of the agreement include the long-term goal of achieving net zero emissions by “the second half of this century,” and the acknowledgement of the global need to limit global average temperature rise to 1.5°C, a target that many countries and organizations fought hard to have included in the agreement. The agreement also calls for countries to review and strengthen their climate plans every five years and addresses loss and damage and climate financing for developing nations.

Many interesting perspectives have emerged with the release of the agreement. More notable ones include Canadian activist Naomi Klein, who has said in multiple sources that the climate agreement is “scientifically inadequate” and compared it to “agreeing to cut down from five burgers a day to just four.

Bill McKibben, founder of, wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times, stating that the agreement may have worked in 1995 but as of currently, the 1.5°C target “would require breakneck action of a kind most nations aren’t really contemplating.”

Elizabeth May gave a rundown of the final day at COP21 and along with excitement and optimism ­— calling the Paris Agreement “historic and potentially life-saving” — she shares her concerns regarding the need for immediate action from all nations especially Canada. She urges for Canada to re-vamp and improve the previous Conservative government target, and to “be prepared to do it again in 2020.”

Given that the world is already nearing a global average temperature rise of 1°C , the concerns regarding the 1.5°C target is justifiable. The agreement made in Paris is not the cure-all for climate change. There is still a long way to go and with current climate action pledges deemed inadequate to reaching the “well below” 2°C target, countries need to commit to stronger climate pledges and implement them quickly. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, we can no longer afford 20 years of climate inaction.   

Eunize Lao is the Editorial Intern and a third-year Environment and Business student at the University of Waterloo. 

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