World leaders have hailed the 11th-hour climate deal reached in Paris on Saturday, claiming it provides the “best chance we have” of saving the planet from catastrophic climate change.
As the dust settles on what politicians insisted was a historic agreement, senior figures from the US, China and the EU welcomed the deal on Sunday – despite misgivings among climate scientists and campaigners who said it did not go far enough.
Describing the agreement as “ambitious”, the US president, Barack Obama, said: “Together, we’ve shown what’s possible when the world stands as one. In short, this agreement will mean less of the carbon pollution that threatens our planet and more of the jobs and economic growth driven by low-carbon investments.”
Obama warned the pact was not perfect and said there was much hard work ahead.
China’s chief negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, agreed that the Paris plan was not ideal but he added that “this does not prevent us from marching historical steps forward”.
India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, said there were “no winners or losers”. “Climate justice has won and we are all working towards a greener future,” he tweeted.
The deal aims to hold global temperatures to a maximum rise of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, staving off the worst effects of catastrophic global warming. Countries agreed to reduce emissions, promised to raise $100bn a year by 2020 to help poor countries adapt their economies, and accept a new goal of net zero emissions by later this century.
Some aspects of the agreement are legally binding, such as the obligation on individual countries to set an emissions reduction target and the regular review of that goal. However, the targets themselves are not legally binding.
On Sunday the UK’s energy and climate change secretary, Amber Rudd, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that it was an “extraordinary achievement”, but she warned it was “only the start”.
“The French did a fantastic job managing the whole process, but – as they said themselves – it’s a step in the right direction … the work begins now.”