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Paris Climate Talks Conclude With Landmark International Agreement


And my thanks to Lynn Neary for sitting in for me last weekend. We begin today with news that negotiators in Paris have agreed to an ambitious, historic plan to curb global warming. The agreement is intended to fundamentally alter the way just about every country in the world uses energy, and it calls for hundreds of billions of dollars of new financial aid to subsidize the efforts of developing nations. Here's President Obama on the deal.


BARACK OBAMA: This agreement represents the best chance we've had to save the one planet that we've got.

MARTIN: NPR's Christopher Joyce has been at the talks throughout, and he is with us now. Chris, first I'm going to ask you - what is so significant about this deal and what's in it?

CHRISTOPHER JOYCE, BYLINE: Significant because there has not been a global deal to curb emissions of greenhouse gases and to curb global warming since 1997, when the so-called Kyoto Protocol was signed. And this deal is different and there's a lot in it. First and foremost, it includes everybody. It includes economic giants like the U.S. and China, and it includes tiny island nations of the Pacific. This puts the responsibility to protect the climate on everyone, and that's a first.

MARTIN: Now, you know, one assumes that this has to mean moving away from things like coal and oil and natural gas - that cannot be easy or cheap.

JOYCE: No, and you're talking about remaking the world's energy economy. The Paris deal is going to guarantee a big pot of money to help them to do that, to go green - $100 billion every year, starting in 2020, and then that will be renegotiated in following years to up the ante. That was a big ask by the developing countries, and they got it.

MARTIN: Scientists have sort of set a certain target that they think is absolutely essential to limit warming in the future to prevent kind of catastrophic effects. Is there agreement that this deal will accomplish that goal?

JOYCE: Well, they have set this rather complicated goal. They don't want the planet's average temperature to go more than two degrees above what it was - 2 degrees Celsius, that is - above what it was pre-Industrial Revolution. Now, that's the target but it's not going to be enough, and everybody knows that. So what they've done is they've said, let's come back every few years and get together and say, OK, we can do better.

MARTIN: So what happens next?

JOYCE: Well, this has been arranged carefully by the legal minds in the State Department and the White House such that it may not have to go to the Senate to be ratified. The president has a certain amount of authority based on a - actually, a treaty ratified in 1992 by George H.W. Bush. And they think that he can derive authority from that treaty and not have to have this agreement ratified all over again.

MARTIN: OK, before we let you go, Chris, I hear a lot of hubbub around you. Where are you exactly and what's the atmosphere like there?

JOYCE: I would say somewhere between ebullient and ecstatic. And I'm looking up on a screen right now and seeing delegates actually, literally, jumping up and down and applauding. And you're hearing some of that, too. People have been working on this for 13 days and, actually, before that for years. And everybody who's interested in climate is pretty pleased with what's happened here.

MARTIN: All right, that's NPR's Christopher Joyce in Paris. Chris, thank you.

JOYCE: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Christopher Joyce
Christopher Joyce is a correspondent on the science desk at NPR. His stories can be heard on all of NPR's news programs, including NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.
Michel Martin
Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered and host of the Consider This Saturday podcast, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
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