Paris Agreement (2015)
During the Conference of the Parties 21 (COP21), Parties to the UNFCCC reached a milestone agreement to fight climate change and to increase and rush the actions and investments needed for the goal of a sustainable low carbon future. This Agreement, known as Paris Agreement after the city where the COP21 was held, was adopted on 12th of December 2015.
The central aim of the Agreement is to increase international response towards the climate crisis and keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Additionally, the Agreement aims to increase Parties ability to adapt their impacts towards climate change, promoting mitigation and adaptation while making finance flows consistent with a sustainable and resilient future. It focuses on supporting most vulnerable countries to reach their national objectives, thus enhancing action and assistance by developed countries.
The Paris Agreement is implemented in 5 year cycles where increasing goals are fulfilled by the countries, which since 2020 have submitted their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). These contributions reflect their national climate action plans and are required to determine higher level of goals in each successive version.
On the 4th of November 2016, the Paris Agreement entered into force and as of today, 194 Parties (193 nations plus EU) have ratified it. Under the Trump administration, USA withdrew from the Agreement, but re-joined in February 2021 with Biden as president.
Although action needs to be hugely increased to reach 2030 goals, low carbon solutions and new markets are rapidly emerging while becoming more competitive. It is expected that by 2030, zero carbon solutions could represent 70% of the global emissions.
The Paris Agreement represents a critical global effort to address the urgent challenge of climate change and to achieve a sustainable and resilient future for all.
Key Aspects of the Paris Agreement
- Long-term temperature goal (Art.2): The Agreement sets the goal of limiting global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This acknowledges the urgent need for reaching the global peaking of GHG emissions as soon as possible, to later achieve balance and climate neutrality (Art.4).
- Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs): Each participating country is required to submit its own voluntary climate action plan called the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). These plans outline the country’s targets, strategies, and measures to reduce GHG emissions and adapt to climate change. NDCs are updated every 5 years, with a focus on increasing ambition over time and provide transparency (Art.4).
- Transparency (Art.13), implementation and compliance (Art. 15): The Paris Agreement emphasizes the importance of transparency and accountability. Participating countries are required to regularly report on their emissions and implementation efforts, enabling tracking of progress and ensuring transparency in climate actions.
- Voluntary cooperation / Market-and non-market-based-approaches (Art.6): The voluntary cooperation among the Parties is recognized to allow higher ambition for internationally transferal of mitigation outcomes, including environmental integrity, transparency and credible accounting.
- Adaptation (Art.7) and loss and damage (Art.8): The Paris Agreement recognizes the importance of adaptation to the impacts of climate change and establishes the Adaptation Committee to promote and support adaptation actions. It also acknowledges the need to address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts in vulnerable countries.
- Climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building (Art. 9, 10 and 11): Developed countries are committed to providing financial resources to support developing countries in their climate mitigation with a goal of $100 billion annually by 2020.The also promotes the transfer of green technologies in developing countries and the importance of capacity building to effectively address climate change in developing countries.