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World leaders make history with climate deal in #Paris

Delegates from 195 nations green-light new accord that seeks to keep average temperature increase below 2 degrees C.

World leaders

Delegates from 195 nations reached an unprecedented agreement on global climate change on Saturday in the French capital, Paris, after two weeks of intense negotiations.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius ended nearly a fortnight of UN negotiations in Paris with the bang of a gavel, marking consensus among the ministers, who stood for several minutes to clap and shout their joy.

"I see the room, I see the reaction is positive, I hear no objection. The Paris climate accord is adopted," Fabius declared.

Turning to a little green hammer with which he formally gave life to the arduously-crafted pact, he quipped: "It may be a small gavel but it can do big things."

The historic deal comes after negotiators from key nations - including China, the United States, and India - gave their approval to a draft accord presented by host France earlier in the day.

The legally binding pact limiting greenhouse gas emissions provides the world a roadmap for breaking away from fossil fuels that have powered the global economy since the Industrial Revolution.

The deal, to take effect from 2020, ends decades-long rows between rich and poor nations over how to carry out what will be a multi-trillion-dollar effort to cap global warming and deal with consequences already occurring.

The Paris accord sets a target of limiting warming of the planet to "well below" 2.0 degrees Celsius compared with the Industrial Revolution, while aiming for an even more ambitious goal of 1.5C.

To do so, the emissions of greenhouse gases will need to peak "as soon as possible", followed by rapid reductions, the agreement states.

The world has already warmed almost 1C, which has caused major problems for many people around the world particularly in developing countries, such as more severe storms, droughts and rising seas, according to scientists.

Developing nations had insisted rich countries must shoulder the lion's share of responsibility for tackling climate change as they emitted most of the greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution.

The United States and other rich nations countered that emerging giants must also do more, arguing developing countries now account for most of current emissions and thus will be largely responsible for future warming.

On the crucial financing issue, developed countries agreed to muster at least $100 billion a year from 2020 to help developing nations.

However, following US objections, it was not included in the legally binding section of the deal.

US President Barack Obama announced on Twitter that signing of the deal was "huge".

"Almost every country in the world just signed on to the #ParisAgreement on climate change — thanks to American leadership," the US president said.

Environment groups said the Paris agreement was a turning point in history and spelt the demise of the fossil fuel industry, pointing particularly to the significance of the 1.5C goal.

"That single number, and the new goal of net zero emissions by the second half of this century, will cause consternation in the boardrooms of coal companies and the palaces of oil-exporting states," Greenpeace International chief Kumi Naidoo said.


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