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This is going to be the new long-term target for global warming.

Alain Jocard, Getty Images

If the final text of the Paris climate agreement is adopted by 195 countries in Paris, world leaders will have agreed to limit the average rise in global temperatures to “well below 2 °C above preindustrial levels,” and supports efforts to limit it to 1.5°C, which is a more aggressive target than first expected.

To help guide us to this temperature goal, the agreement also spells out a “long-term” target on greenhouse gas emissions. It tells countries to aim to peak their emissions “as soon as possible,” while allowing that developing nations will take longer to reach their peak than developed ones:

Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science, so as to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, on the basis of equity, and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.

This is a slight tweaking of the draft that came before it, which called for nations to reach “emissions neutrality” in the second half of the century. The new version instead calls for countries to “achieve a balance” on emissions and land-use after 2050. 

The one disappointing part is that there is no firm timeline spelled out. World Resources Institute’s Jennifer Morgan still called the goal “transformational.”