The Paris climate summit known as COP21 came to an end on Saturday afternoon, December 12, 2015. This was a day later than originally planned to allow for last-minute compromises and an agreement with a few States, mainly Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, so that they would not block a consensus agreement.
All 195 States plus the European Union had to agree. A treaty is not something that can be created by a majority vote as can be done in a UN General Assembly resolution. On April 22, 2016, there will be a high-level signature ceremony. The Treaty must be ratified by 55 States and will come into force in 2020.
The treaty arising from COP21 will replace the Kyoto Protocol. The new treaty is relatively short and clear. However, it is the “Preamble” of 140 paragraphs--not legally binding but where all the analysis and aims are set out--that caused difficulties to reach consensus among States with diverse interpretations of “national interest,” of short- and longer-term perspectives, and of differing access to national expertise.
The preamble has been under negotiations for the past two years. Although most points had been agreed upon well before the Paris conference, some crucial aspects had to be negotiated during the two-week session among heads of government and teams of negotiators, often with a Foreign Minister present.