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2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – Paris Conference

2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – Paris Conference

From November 30 – December 11, world leaders from 195 countries will gather in Paris for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Government, civil society, and faith leaders will convene in hopes of creating the first international, legally binding agreement to fight climate change. The goal of the agreement is to create a plan to keep global temperature rise below 2o C by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. In anticipation of the conference, over 175 countries have committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

You too can take action! Sign the Faithful Call to Address Climate Change and call on the U.S. to take leadership during the conference with a commitment to create a solution that reduces national greenhouse gas emissions and enables poor and vulnerable communities to build low carbon and climate-resilient societies.

For more information about the UNFCCC conference, please visit our FAQ page.

Visit our UNFCC Paris website during Hanukkah to learn how you can show world leaders that you are committed to this global goal by taking local actions to reduce your carbon footprint. 

Highlights from Day 1 (November 30)

40,000 delegates from 195 countries, including 150 world leaders gathered in Paris for the opening of the climate negotiations. 

President Obama began his time at COP 21 by meeting with President Xi Jingping of China and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India. China, the United States and India are the countries with the first, second and third highest carbon dioxide emissions in the world.

President Obama also gave a speech to the conference in which he stated, “I’ve come here personally, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and the second-largest emitter, to say that the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it.” He also highlighted America’s new commitment to clean energy and carbon emission reduction, highlighting his plan for the US to reduce our emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels within 10 years. He presented a strong call to action stating, “our task here in Paris is to turn these achievements into an enduring framework for human progress -- not a stopgap solution, but a long-term strategy that gives the world confidence in a low-carbon future.”

You can watch President Obama’s full speech here.

Other highlights from day one include


Highlights from Day 2 (December 1)

On the second day of negotiations, delegates are working to condense the 50 page draft agreement, a task they must complete by Saturday. The deadline was set by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in order for world leaders to spend next week negotiating on the final agreement.

In a press conference this morning President Obama highlighted the need for a framework for progress that leads to a low-carbon future. He expressed the need for continuously updated emissions targets that are achievable and a way to assure developing countries are able to improve technologies to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change. He states the goal is to have “not just an agreement to roll back the pollution that threatens our planet, but an agreement that helps our economies grow and our people to thrive without condemning the next generation to a planet that is beyond its capacity to repair.”

The Alliance of Small Island States – 44 countries that face extreme weather events and rising sea levels have emerged, calling for stronger climate action, including a lower temperature increase target of 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels rather than the widely accepted 2 degrees C.

The White House announced 73 new companies are joining the American Business Act on Climate Pledge. This pledge now consists of 154 companies, representing $4.2 trillion in annual revenue, who are voicing their support for a strong climate agreement that leads to a low-carbon and sustainable future and committing to reduce their emission and promote sustainable business practices.   

Highlights from Day 3 (December 2)

The third day of the conference was marked as “Resilience Day” and therefore, much of the focus was on protecting nations most vulnerable to the changing climate.  

As a result, a major international partnership under the Lima-Paris Action Agenda is mobilizing $1 billion to protect countries at greatest risk to climate impacts. The Rockefeller Foundation estimated that 1 in every 3 dollars that are spent on development has been lost as a result of climate change and extreme weather.

New initiatives announced by the Lima-Paris Action Agenda as part of the Resilience Focus event include the following:

  • Climate Risks and Early Warning Systems initiative: early warning systems for over 50 least developed countries and small islands
  • G7 InsuResilience Initiative: providing access to insurance for 400 million vulnerable people in 5 years
  • The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative: increase resiliency  to restore productivity to the region
  • Global Resilience Partnership: promote resilience measures in Africa and Asia over the next 5 years through a $150 million partnership
  • Food Security Climate Resilience Facility
  • EU mobilized 125 million Euros for countries impacted by El Nino
  • A2R Initiative: UN initiative to build climate resilience in world’s most vulnerable countries to anticipate hazards, absorb shocks and reshape development to reduce climate risk. 


Highlights from Day 4 (December 3)

California Governor Jerry Brown arrived in Paris today, in anticipation of his speech at the conference tomorrow. California has pledged that by 2050 all new passenger vehicles sold in the state will not emit greenhouse gases.

The focus of COP 21 today was the launch of a new Global Alliance for Buildings and Constriction aiming to reduce carbon emissions from the sector. The Alliance consists of 18 countries, including the U.S., and over 60 building and construction sector organizations.

Additionally, the youth voice was heard at the conference today, as youth leaders from around the world gathered to demand more ambitious action to limit global temperature rise.

Watch former Legislative Assistant, Liya Rechtman, manager of the Coalition on Environment and Jewish Life, talk about the importance of being at the conference as both a Jewish and youth leader. 

Highlights from Day 5 (December 4)

Leonardo DiCaprio spoke in front of City Hall in Paris saying “This time must be different because we are fundamentally running out of time,” highlighting that past deals have come up short and that won’t be acceptable this time around.

Highlights from Day 6 (December 5)

A 21 page draft agreement was released. Certain issues remain unresolved, including how rich countries will finance the transition to a low-carbon future for poorer countries and how compliance with the agreement will be measured and verified. As he presented the agreement, Laurent Fabius, President of COP21 and French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development said, “this meeting is not only about climate change, or the environment, it is about life.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, French President Hollande, and former Vice President Al Gore all spoke urging government and businesses to do more. In his speech, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced a partnership among a broad group of organizations, including the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility and individuals including Michael Bloomberg, to maintain momentum for climate action in 2016. They will host a Climate Action 2016 summit for leaders from government, business, cities and localities, civil society and academia in Washington, D.C. next May.

Highlights from Day 7 (December 6)

After presenting a draft agreement Saturday night, negotiations paused on Sunday in preparation for final discussions next week.

Highlights from Day 8 (December 7)

Today kicked off the “high-level segment” of the climate negotiations , with the edited draft agreement, ministers arrived in Paris to begin negotiating specifics. Focuses include Loss and Damage, which refers to harm caused by climate that is unavoidable and to which it is not possible to adapt, such as small island nations becoming entirely submerged, additionally, discussions include debates about setting the limit for global temperature increase at 1.5 degrees C or 2 degrees, and how the international goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to keep global temperature from increasing will be achieved and measured.

Highlights from Day 9 (December 8)

Some of the world’s largest companies and brands including, Unilever, Total, Bank of America, Patagonia and Ikea announced their commitment to practices that cut carbon emissions and support sustainable energy.

Highlights from Day 10 (December 9)

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at the conference, announcing a proposal to double U.S. financing for climate adaptation. In his speech he said, “we didn’t come to Paris to build a ceiling. We came to build a floor,” as he committed the U.S. to more than $800 million a year in adaptation financing. He further emphasized U.S. commitment by saying, “the situation demands and this moment demands that we do not leave Paris without an ambitious…and durable agreement.”



Rachel Landman is the assistant director of 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy in Byfield, MA, where she ran the inaugural summer Israel program, which focused on exploring Israel through the lens of science and technology. She holds a degree in biology from Hamilton College and served as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. She is an alumna of URJ Crane Lake Camp and grew up at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue in Brooklyn, NY. 

Rachel Landman

Published: 11/24/2015