The pact also requires specific climate action in each country. The United States, for example, has promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2025 by 26% to 28% compared to 2005 levels.
When Obama addressed the opening of the climate summit, he said meeting those goals required immediate action, including incentives for renewable energy, increased energy efficiency, and less use of high-emission fossil fuels, including coal, oil, and natural gas.
In all, 187 countries have made similar pledges of their own in the lead-up to the talks.
Next year, when the climate summit reconvenes in Morocco, negotiators will begin to focus on a “ratcheting mechanism” that aims to force countries to reduce their emissions and strengthen other climate initiatives as technology improves and circumstances change.
“In Paris, the human race joined together in a common cause, but what is really important is what countries do after this,” said Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International. “All eyes will be watching because this deal on its own won’t dig us out of the hole we’re in. But it makes the sides of the hole less steep.”
For Paris, the next step is recovering from a climate summit hangover. Many French commentators said the negotiations helped distract the city’s attention from the deadly Nov. 13 terror attacks that killed 130 people. The talks took place amid extra-tight security throughout the city, and were housed in a sprawling, temporary complex put together on the runways of a small airport. It is already being torn down.
“It’s kind of sad to see this area that had so much activity for the last two weeks being taken apart,” said Richard Aguillon, 29, one of the workers helping with the dismantling efforts on Sunday. “But we were just talking about it earlier and all of us, the workers here, we are proud this big agreement was made in Paris, here in this temporary city we helped construct.”
Read More: Paris climate deal: Hard work comes next