Blog - Charles River Watershed Association

Twelve Days of Paris - An Overview of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference

Posted by Julie Dyer Wood

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12/23/15 3:02 PM

Child with Christmas tree

From November 30th to December 14th, global world leaders met in Paris to discuss global climate change. The 2015 Paris Climate Conference, or COP21, produced the first global agreement on a process and pathway to stem the tide of global warming. While this was truly a historic event, it fell at a time when many of us are preoccupied by our own, less global, challenges, such as what should I get my father-in-law? What do I bake for my Aunt’s party? Did I already get year-end gifts for my kid’s teacher? And why does my husband keep playing that same holiday music CD over and over?  So for those of you who might have been a bit distracted by the season, a COP summary to the tune that is already stuck in your head.


The Twelve Days of Paris (to the tune of Twelve Days of Christmas)


On the first day of Paris world leaders gave to me: A promise to save trees (and the rest of the planet)

OneThe deal is being heralded as historic because for the first time the world’s nations have come together in an agreement on a plan to address climate change. Previous agreements have not had similar buy in.  

On the second day of Paris world leaders gave to me: Two degrees Celsius

twoNations agreed that two degrees Celsius is the precipitous temperature rise we absolutely need to avoid, while acknowledging that a rise of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius rise should be the real target.  We are already nearly half-way to the 2 degree rise in average global temperatures. 

On the third day of Paris world leaders gave to me:
 Three- (thousand) French cops

ThreeSecurity at the summit was very tight, opening just 17 days after the devastating terrorist attacks in Paris. French officials reported that there would be 2,800 police and guardsmen assigned to the venue, 8,000 securing the country's border, and a total of 120,000 across the country.

On the fourth day of Paris world leaders gave to me:  Four-ty thousand delegates

FourMore than 40,000 delegates participated in COP21, breaking the previous record of COP15 in 2009, which included about 27,000 participants.

On the fifth day of Paris world leaders gave to me:  Five-year reviews

fiveCountries will publicly review progress toward limited greenhouse gas emissions every five years to track global progress and progress toward more ambitious reductions.  

On the sixth day of Paris world leaders gave to me: Six-(ty) years of delaying

sixA remarkable piece of the climate agreement is the united intention to ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions to levels that trees, soil and the oceans can absorb. The target for achieving this balance on our planet is sometime between 2050 and 2100. The longer we delay achieving this balance, the more dire the consequences will become. 

On the seventh day of Paris world leaders gave to me: 0.7 degrees Celsius

SevenWhile this agreement is an important step in the right direction, the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) (i.e. promises to reduce emissions) participating countries have currently made are not enough to keep global temperature rise within 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, rather these commitments would allow warming to rise 0.7 degrees above that target.

On the eighth day of Paris world leaders gave to me: Eight-y million euros

eightIt cost approximately 80 million euros to provide all accredited COP21 participants with free passes to Paris’s world class public transportation system. This was done in an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of the conference itself.

On the ninth day of Paris world leaders gave to me: (One) Nine-ty five countries dancing


One hundred ninety-five nations were party to the agreement heralded as setting up a pathway and framework to finally stem the accelerating advancement of global climate change.

On the tenth day of Paris world leaders gave to me: Ten leaders leaping (past fossil fuels)


Funding has been set up to help developing countries bypass fossil fuels and leap directly to more widespread use of renewable. Many more than ten countries will be contributing to $100 billion promised annually until 2025 to invest in renewable energy in many more than ten developing nations.

On the eleventh day of Paris world leaders gave to me: Eleven staffers working

ElevenAt CRWA, our small but mighty staff of 11 understands that we are living in a changed climate. Working to mitigate and adapt to climate change touches every piece of our work. Our Executive Director, Bob Zimmerman, lays out our guiding principals for designing with nature in the Water Transformation Series of blog posts. Starting with our watershed, CRWA is restoring natural water, carbon and nutrient cycles to both natural and human systems in an effort to build resilient and sustainable cities.  

On the twelfth day of Paris world leaders gave to me: Twelve activists protesting

twelveIndeed there were many more than twelve protesters, it is estimated that approximately 2,000 protests were held across 150 countries. Due to security concerns protest activity was limited in Paris, but environmental advocates made their voices heard through unique demonstrations and widespread protests across the globe. Many activists feel the agreement does not go far enough and is not inclusive enough of all activities affecting global climate change.

To learn more about the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, check out the coverage in the New York Times, or read the full text of the Paris Climate Accord


Topics: Climate Change, Climate Change Adaptation

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About Charles River Watershed Association:

One of the country's oldest watershed organizations, Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) was formed in 1965 in response to public concern about the declining condition of the Charles. Since its earliest days of advocacy, CRWA has figured prominently in major clean-up and watershed protection efforts, working with government officials and citizen groups from 35 Massachusetts watershed towns from Hopkinton to Boston. Initiatives over the last fifty years have dramatically improved the quality of water in the watershed and fundamentally changed approaches to water resource management.