Halfway through Paris climate talks, this is where things stand

Le Grand Palais, Paris, France

Le Grand Palais in Paris. The U.N. climate talks are currently underway in the city, which intend to produce a global climate change agreement by the end of the week. (© jean-marc/Flickr Creative Commons)

Editor’s note: With the U.N. climate talks in Paris resuming today, we recap the signs of progress so far — and what still needs to be done.

The second week of talks in Paris began Monday with much work remaining to whittle a final global climate agreement into something that can be agreed upon by week’s end. The BBC reported that the draft text was still 48 pages long as of Monday, with more than 900 bracketed passages signifying areas of disagreement.

But many organizations including Conservation International (CI) remained optimistic that countries can reach a final agreement. Thus far, nations have recognized the critical role of nature in fighting climate change — important given that nature represents more than 30% of the solution to limit warming to safe levels. Throughout the text, ecosystems are noted as vital to both curbing climate change and adapting to its effects. It was expected that the  importance of tropical forests for capturing and storing carbon will be reflected in the final text.

Here’s where things stand on some of the key issues:

Mitigation and REDD+

In one notable development, an initiative designed to protect forests to help fight climate change — known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, or REDD+ — received significant attention and support. In particular, Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom announced a commitment of up to US$ 5 billion for this approach, a signal that the Paris agreement will help stimulate the growth of REDD+.

“I am pleased by the broad support for REDD+, a critical means of promoting forest conservation for the sake of our climate,” said Steve Panfil, technical advisor for REDD+ Initiatives at CI. “It is clear that countries recognize REDD+ as an important way to reduce emissions, and we expect the new agreement to have everything necessary to move it forward.”

Further reading


Despite a broad recognition of the importance of determining how countries can adapt to climate change, countries must resolve a few crucial issues on adaptation this week.

“In order for a final deal to have a catalytic effect, this week will need to deliver a concrete result for adaptation,” said Shyla Raghav, CI director of climate policy.

“While countries have demonstrated their willingness to work together, thus far this agreement will not adequately address the entire range of needs of communities and countries to build resilience to climate impacts.”

In addition to adaptation, part of what countries are discussing are the ways to avert, minimize and remedy extreme and irreversible effects of climate change.


Countries still need to determine how to fund climate solutions, which projects and places to prioritize, and how funding can be sustained over time.

Over the course of the first week of the meeting, countries worked to bridge the gaps among many different perspectives on these issues; however, a final compromise will likely not be found until the final hours of the negotiations, experts say, pointing to the need for more investments.

“The objectives of the forthcoming Paris agreement cannot be met without increased levels of investment,” said Maggie Comstock, CI’s senior manager for climate and biodiversity finance policy. “Fundamental details about how to achieve this remain to be agreed upon, including sources of finance and how to effectively deliver funding to address the priorities and needs of developing countries.”

Bruno Vander Velde is CI’s editorial director. 

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  3. COP21 Summary by Christabel N. says

    I believe that now when COP21 is over, we can say that it was not nearly as ambitious and urgent as it should have been. Economics were still placed over environmental action, and it seems that climate change policy will end up quite different in practice than on paper. In the summary that I wrote, however, I pointed the one giant difference that COP21 made in my opinion – it gave the people the motivation to push “leaders” to follow through with their promises.

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