2015 WM SenaVice-Chairperson Nilza SenaCOPENHAGEN, 14 December 2015 – The Paris climate deal represents a historic breakthrough in efforts to minimize warming of the planet and countries must seize the new momentum to meet goals and set bolder ones, said Nilza Sena (MP, Portugal), the Vice-Chairperson of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment, today.

“I welcome the Paris Agreement, which represents the international community’s most ambitious, most co-operative effort to date to fight the effects of our own destructive actions and leave a healthier world for future generations.

“But even more important than the deal on paper is what the deal must become: a source of historic momentum that will allow us to implement pledges, set bolder goals, and make a truly decisive move towards cleaner energy and green growth,” Sena said.

The Paris Agreement, concluded on 12 December, for the first time commits all developed and developing nations to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the heart of the deal is a pledge to “hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.” Individual countries’ plans for reducing emissions are voluntary, but the need to publicly report, verify and update those plans is legally binding.

Vice-Chair Sena noted concern by some that not enough of the Agreement has legal backing, including its pledges of financing to poorer countries to help them mitigate the effects of climate change. She also noted that plans for emissions cuts that countries have put forward so far are not ambitious enough to prevent a potentially catastrophic rise in the earth’s temperature.

“While the Agreement is not perfect, we must not let the limitations discourage us, but instead see this as a much-needed motivating factor and, hopefully, the start of a new era of hard work.

“Let me also stress that parliamentarians can and must play a major role here, both in holding their governments accountable to the Paris Agreement and in helping to find new mechanisms for sustainable, environmentally friendly growth,” Sena said.

She noted that within the Parliamentary Assembly’s 2015 Helsinki Declaration, lawmakers from across the OSCE area “implore[ed] participating States to pursue policies on the local, national and regional levels to take preventive measures, mitigate and adapt to climate change, as well as to forge bilateral and multilateral agreements toward this end.”

Sena pledged continued parliamentary support for the OSCE’s work on environmental co-operation and good governance and urged the Organization to increase its focus on helping countries pursue the Paris goals.

In January 2016, the Vice-Chair is scheduled to participate in preparatory meetings for the OSCE’s 24th Economic and Environmental Forum.