The draft decision text and Paris Agreement released Saturday by COP21 President Laurent Fabius is the culmination of a process begun in Bali in 2007, enhanced by actions taken in Copenhagen in 2009, and completed this weekend in Paris. That process has resulted in a complete reboot of the manner in which the world will deal with climate change. The new, bottom-up process of pledge and review guarantees for the first time that all nations agree to take voluntary actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This stands in sharp contrast to the previous top-down Kyoto process under which only developed countries were expected to act and where little was accomplished in terms of global emissions reductions.
Time will tell how effective the new regime will be, with much depending on how important elements of the agreement are developed over the next few years. However, Paris has provided all the necessary building blocks for a very effective process going forward. These include the agreement that all countries will act to reduce emissions, will pledge increasingly ambitious emissions reduction actions every five years, and will report in a transparent manner on those actions.