At COP 21 in Paris in 2015, Parties to the UNFCCC reached a landmark agreement to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. The Paris Agreement builds upon the Convention and for the first time brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so.
Provisions of Paris Agreement
- The Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming well below 2 degree Celsius and as close to 1.5 degree Celsius as possible, to increase economic and social ability to adapt to extreme climate.
- The Paris Agreement sends a powerful signal to markets that now is the time to invest in the low emission economy. It contains a transparency framework to build mutual trust and confidence.
- The agreement requires all countries to take action, while recognizing their differing situations and circumstances. Under the Agreement, countries are responsible for taking action on both mitigation and adaptation.
- The agreement not only formalizes the process of developing national plans, but also it provides a binding requirement to assess and review progress on these plans. This mechanism will require countries to continuously upgrade their commitments and ensure that there will be no backtracking.
- To begin implementing post-2020 climate plans, countries will need to mobilize resources—including the $100 billion pledged by developed countries– and making investments in a low-carbon direction.
- There is clearly a duty on all parties to take climate action, according to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities, in the light of different national circumstances. The Agreement requires all parties to put forward their best efforts through nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
- The agreement includes global stocktake to assess collective progress toward meeting the agreement’s long-term goals. The first stocktake will take place in 2023. The second process is the submission by parties of new NDCs, informed by the global stocktake.
Current Status of Paris Agreement
- The United States formally initiated its withdrawal from the agreement on November 4, 2019; the withdrawal will take effect on November 4, 2020.
- However, other countries have continued to become parties to the Paris Agreement as they complete their domestic approval procedures.
- Analyses of the commitments submitted by countries conclude that, while they move us closer to the 2-degree goal, they are not ambitious enough to achieve it.
- An analysis by the Climate Action Tracker, a consortium of research institutions, concluded that the INDCs, if fully implemented, could result in warming of 3 degrees Celsius, which would be 0.3 degrees lower than without them.
- Further, most countries are not on target to meet even the modest commitments they made in Paris.
- To bridge the gap, all countries will need to reduce carbon emissions between 5 and 8% a year, something no country has ever achieved, and do it through the end of the century. That will involve, among other things, one-third of all known oil reserves and 80% of known coal reserves being left in the ground.
- Progress has been slow regarding the Green Climate Fund. Countries have so far mobilized only $10.3 billion.
- In the absence of that promised funding, developing countries may refuse to make emissions reductions pledges commensurate with the Paris Agreement temperature goal.