The Challenge of COP21 Paris

‘On Saturday 12 December, 2015, twenty nine days after the tragedy of the terrorist attacks in the same City, it seems that the United Nations has reason to celebrate the success of the event known as COP21, held in Paris. This is because a deal that effectively involved all the nations of the world has been reached that some are claiming is the end of the fossil fuel era.

That 195 countries have been able to agree to four common goals is an achievement that seemed unlikely, given the history of previous meetings in this series. For those of us who remember how things started within the United Nations mechanism, first with the Brundtland Report in 1987 and then the first Earth Summit held at Rio in 1992, the current situation is most welcome.

However, it will be the next phase of the work: implementation; that is likely to present a greater challenge. As my own contribution, I have published three more pages on this web site. ‘Can sustainability be measured?’ is an academic paper, I produced in 1998, which is a topic that is still relevant to the current situation although the references are now dated. I suspect that much data collection and analysis will need to be undertaken to find the technical and social means to implement the COP21 agreement and so I offer some practical steps that I have found useful when ‘Planning research’. Finally, I have included ‘Accounting for sustainability’, a paper that I hope will evolve over time, which currently includes my initial thoughts on a way to measure the resources used by organisations in the private, voluntary and government sectors that might help them know whether the actions they are taking are leading towards the achievement of the outcomes signed up to in COP21.

Paul Newman
December 2015

About Paul Newman

Paul Newman BSc (Sociology), DMS, MA (Sustainable Development) worked for the Government for thirty years mostly on projects seeking to develop the UK Economy and has also been employed as a part-time lecturer, invigilator, events organiser and as a consultant on sustainable development projects. He became a member of the voluntary group Sustainable Staffordshire in 1997 and subsequently served as first a Vice-Chair then Chair for a four year term, during this time he also became a volunteer and then a trustee of the Community Council of Staffordshire, which he continued to support as a member of its Board of Directors until its closure in 2018. He has also served three terms as a Councillor for Swynnterton Parish, been a trustee of Hanchurch Village Hall and member of Trentham PCC.
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