More than 150 heads of state and government attended the opening session of the U.N. Climate Change negotiations (known as COP21) in Paris on 30 November, in an unprecedented show of global political support for an ambitious and extensive agreement.
“Never before did so many heads of state from so many different countries attend a conference. But then again, never have the stakes been so high,” said French President Francois Hollande. “It’s about the future of the planet,” he said.
“The menace of climate change is too great for us to be content with a minimalistic agreement. The Heads of State and Government who have come to Paris have come to express the voice of ambition,” said COP President and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
“The time for brinksmanship is over,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Let us build a durable climate regime with clear rules of the road that all countries can agree to follow. Paris must mark a turning point. We need the world to know that we are headed to a low-emissions, climate-resilient future, and that there is no going back,” he said.
On the eve of the COP21 conference, 184 countries covering around 95 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions had delivered their national climate action plans to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). These pledges constitute a good foundation, but are not enough to keep the world below the maximum global average temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius.
U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said a “remarkable” turning point had been reached in action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“But the task is not done. It is up to you to both capture this progress and chart an unequivocal path forward, with a clear destination, agreed milestones and a predictable timeline that responds to the demands of science and the urgency of the challenge.
Ahead of COP21, WMO issued its Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, showing the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other heat trapping gases reached a new high.
WMO also issued a provisional statement on the status of the climate in 2015, a year which is likely to be be the warmest on record and to reach the symbolic and significant milestone of 1° Celsius above the pre-industrial era. The years 2011-2015 have been the warmest five-year period on record, with many extreme weather events - especially heatwaves - influenced by climate change, according to a WMO five-year analysis.
"The state of the global climate in 2015 will make history as for a number of reasons," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. "Levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached new highs and in the Northern hemisphere spring 2015 the three-month global average concentration of CO2 crossed the 400 parts per million barrier for the first time. 2015 is likely to be the hottest year on record, with ocean surface temperatures at the highest level since measurements began. It is probable that the 1°C Celsius threshold will be crossed," said Mr Jarraud. "This is all bad news for the planet."
WMO supports the Climate Change Convention through a wide range of scientific and technical activities. .A top-level WMO delegation, with support from representatives of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), is contributing actively to the COP-2). It is providing scientific statements to inform the intergovernmental discussions, status reports on operational climate observations and services, and information for the general public.
In the run-up to COP21, WMO released another series of the acclaimed Weather Reports for the Future. This comprises videos from well-known television presenters from around the world giving realistic weather reports for the year 2050, based on climate change projections.