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Paris Agreement

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Paris Agreement (French: Accord de Paris) is an agreement within the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing
with greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the
year 2020. The language of the agreement was negotiated by representatives of
195 countries at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Paris and
adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015. [3][4] It was opened for signature on 22
April 2016 (Earth Day) at a ceremony in New York.[5] As of November 2016, 193
UNFCCC members have signed the treaty, 115 of which have ratified it. After
several European Union states ratified the agreement in October 2016, there were
enough countries that had ratified the agreement that produce enough of the
world's greenhouse gases for the agreement to enter into force. [6] The agreement
went into effect on 4 November 2016.[2]
The head of the Paris Conference, France's foreign minister Laurent Fabius, said this
"ambitious and balanced" plan is a "historic turning point" in the goal of
reducing global warming.[7]
One year on, the ratification of the Paris Agreement was celebrated by the Mayor of
Paris Anne Hidalgo by illuminating the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, Paris'
most iconic monuments, in green.[8]
The aim of the convention is described in Article 2, "enhancing the implementation"
of the UNFCCC through:[9]
"(a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2C
above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to
1.5C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce
the risks and impacts of climate change;
(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and
foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a
manner that does not threaten food production;
(c) Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas
emissions and climate-resilient development."
Countries furthermore aim to reach "global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as
soon as possible". The agreement has been described as an incentive for and driver
of fossil fuel divestment.[10][11]
The Paris deal is the worlds first comprehensive climate agreement. [12]
Nationally determined contributions and their limits[edit]
The contribution that each individual country should make in order to achieve the
worldwide goal are determined by all countries individually and called "nationally
determined contributions" (NDCs). [13] Article 3 requires them to be "ambitious",
"represent a progression over time" and set "with the view to achieving the purpose
of this Agreement". The contributions should be reported every five years and are to
be registered by the UNFCCC Secretariat.[14] Each further ambition should be more
ambitious than the previous one, known as the principle of 'progression'.
Countries can cooperate and pool their nationally determined contributions.
The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions pledged during the 2015 Climate
Change Conference serveunless provided otherwiseas the initial Nationally
determined contribution.
The level of NDCs set by each country [16] will set that country's targets. However the
'contributions' themselves are not binding as a matter of international law, as they
lack the specificity, normative character, or obligatory language necessary to create
binding norms.[17] Furthermore, there will be no mechanism to force [18] a country to
set a target in their NDC by a specific date and no enforcement if a set target in an
NDC is not met.[16][19] There will be only a "name and shame" system[20] or as Jnos
Psztor, the U.N. assistant secretary-general on climate change, told CBS News
(US), a "name and encourage" plan.[21] As the agreement provides no consequences
if countries do not meet their commitments, consensus of this kind is fragile. A
trickle of nations exiting the agreement may trigger the withdrawal of more
governments, bringing about a total collapse of the agreement. [22]
The negotiators of the Agreement however stated that the NDCs and the 2 C
reduction target were insufficient, instead, a 1.5 C target is required, noting "with
concern that the estimated aggregate greenhouse gas emission levels in 2025 and
2030 resulting from the intended nationally determined contributions do not fall
within least-cost 2 C scenarios but rather lead to a projected level of 55 gigatonnes
in 2030", and recognizing furthermore "that much greater emission reduction efforts
will be required in order to hold the increase in the global average temperature to
below 2 C by reducing emissions to 40 gigatonnes or to 1.5 C ". [23]
Although not the sustained temperatures over the long term to which the
Agreement addresses, in the first half of 2016 average temperatures were about
1.3 C (2.3 degrees Fahrenheit) above the average in 1880, when global record-
keeping began.[24]
When the agreement achieved enough signatures to cross the threshold on October
5, 2016, US President Barack Obama claimed that "Even if we meet every target,
we will only get to part of where we need to go," and that "This agreement will help
delay or avoid some of the worse consequences of climate change will help other
nations ratchet down their emissions over time." [25]
Global stocktake[edit]
The global stocktake will kick off with a facilitative dialogue in 2018. At this
convening, parties will evaluate how their NDCs stack up to the nearer-term goal of
peaking global emissions and the long-term goal of achieving net zero emissions by
the second half of this century.[26]
The implementation of the agreement by all member countries together will be
evaluated every 5 years, with the first evaluation in 2023. The outcome is to be
used as input for new nationally determined contributions of member states. [27] The
stocktake will not be of contributions/achievements of individual countries but a
collective analysis of what has been achieved and what more needs to be done.
The stocktake works as part of the Paris Agreements effort to create a ratcheting
up of ambition in emissions cuts. Because analysts have agreed that the current
NDCs will not limit rising temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius, the global
stocktake reconvenes parties to assess how their new NDCs must evolve so that
they continually reflect a countrys highest possible ambition. [26]
While ratcheting up the ambition of NDCs is a major aim of the global stocktake, it
assesses efforts beyond mitigation. The 5 year reviews will also evaluate
adaptation, climate finance provisions, and technology development and transfer. [26]
The Paris Agreement has a 'bottom up' structure in contrast to most international
environmental law treaties which are 'top down', characterised by standards and
targets set internationally, for states to implement. [28] Unlike its predecessor, the
Kyoto Protocol, which sets commitment targets that have legal force, the Paris
Agreement, with its emphasis on consensus-building, allows for voluntary and
nationally determined targets.[29] The specific climate goals are thus politically
encouraged, rather than legally bound. Only the processes governing the reporting
and review of these goals are mandated under international law. This structure is
especially notable for the United Statesbecause there are no legal mitigation or
finance targets, the agreement is considered an executive agreement rather than a
treaty. Because the UNFCCC treaty of 1992 received the consent of the Senate,
this new agreement does not require further legislation from Congress for it to take
Another key difference between Paris Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol is its scope.
While the Kyoto Protocol differentiated between Annex-1 and non-Annex-1
countries, this bifurcation is blurred in the Paris Agreement, as all parties will be
required to submit emissions reductions plans. [30] While the Paris Agreement still
emphasizes the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilitythe
acknowledgement that different nations have different capacities and duties to
climate actionit does not provide a specific division between developed and
developing nations.[30]
Mitigation Provisions and Carbon Markets[edit]
Article 6 has been flagged as containing some of the key provisions of the Paris
Agreement.[31] Broadly, it outlines the cooperative approaches that parties can take
in achieving their nationally determined carbon emissions reductions. In doing so, it
helps establish the Paris Agreement as a framework for a global carbon market. [32]
Linkages and ITMOs[edit]
Paragraphs 6.2 and 6.3 establish a framework to govern the international transfer of
mitigation outcomes (ITMOs). The Agreement recognizes the rights of Parties to use
emissions reductions outside of their own jurisdiction toward their NDC, in a system
of carbon accounting and trading.[32]
This provision requires the linkage of various carbon emissions trading systems
because measured emissions reductions must avoid double counting, transferred
mitigation outcomes must be recorded as a gain of emission units for one party and
a reduction of emission units for the other. [31] Because the NDCs, and domestic
carbon trading schemes, are heterogenous, the ITMOs will provide a format for
global linkage under the auspices of the UNFCCC. [33] The provision thus also creates
a pressure for countries to adopt emissions management systemsif a country
wants to use more cost-effective cooperative approaches to achieve their NDCs,
they will need to monitor carbon units for their economies. [34]
The Sustainable Development Mechanism[edit]
Paragraphs 6.4-6.7 establish a mechanism "to contribute to the mitigation of
greenhouse gases and support sustainable development". [35] Though there is no
specific name for the mechanism as yet, many Parties and observers have
informally coalesced around the name "Sustainable Development Mechanism" or
"SDM".[36][37] The SDM is considered to be the successor to the Clean Development
Mechanism, a flexible mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, by which parties could
collaboratively pursue emissions reductions for their Intended Nationally
Determined Contributions. The Sustainable Development Mechanism lays the
framework for the future of the Clean Development Mechanism post-Kyoto (in
In its basic aim, the SDM will largely resemble the Clean Development Mechanism,
with the dual mission to 1. contribute to global GHG emissions reductions and 2.
support sustainable development.[38] The structure and the processes governing the
SDM are not yet determined, certain similarities and differences from the Clean
Development Mechanism can already be seen. Notably, the SDM, unlike the Clean
Development Mechanism, will be available to all parties as opposed to only Annex-
1 parties, making it much wider in scope.[39]
Since the Kyoto Protocol went into force, the Clean Development Mechanism has
been criticized for failing to produce either meaningful emissions reductions or
sustainable development benefits in most instances. [40] It has also suffered from the
low price of Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs), creating less demand for
projects. These criticisms have motivated the recommendations of various
stakeholders, who have provided through working groups and reports, new
elements they hope to see in SDM that will bolster its success. [33] The specifics of
the governance structure, project proposal modalities, and overall design are
expected to come during the next Conference of the Parties in Marrakesh.
Adaptation Provisions[edit]
Adaptation issues garnered more focus in the formation of the Paris Agreement.
Collective, long-term adaptation goals are included in the Agreement, and countries
must report on their adaptation actions, making adaptation a parallel component of
the agreement with mitigation.[41] The adaptation goals focus on enhancing adaptive
capacity, increasing resilience, and limiting vulnerability. [42]
Ensuring Finance[edit]
Not part of the Paris Agreement (and not legally binding) [43] is a plan to provide
US$100 billion a year in aid to developing countries for implementing new
procedures to minimize climate change with additional amounts to be provided in
subsequent years.[44] Though both mitigation and adaptation require increased
climate financing, adaptation has typically received a disproportionately low level of
support.[41] A 2014 report by the OECD found that just 16 percent of global finance
was directed toward climate adaptation in 2014. [29]
The Paris Agreement attempts to address the deficit by calling for a balance of
climate finance between adaptation and mitigation, and specifically underscoring
the need to increase adaptation support for parties most vulnerable to the effects of
climate change, including Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing
States. The agreement also reminds parties of the importance of public grants,
because adaptation measures receive less investment from the public sector.
John Kerry, as Secretary of State, announced that grant-based adaptation finance
would double by 2020.[29]
Some specific outcomes of the elevated attention to adaptation financing in Paris
include the G7 countries announcement to provide US $420 million for Climate Risk
Insurance, and the launching of a Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS)
Initiative.[45] In early March 2016, the Obama administration gave a $500 million
grant to the "Green Climate Fund" as "the first chunk of a $3 billion commitment
made at the Paris climate talks."[46][47][52]So far, the Green Climate Fund has now
received over $10 billion in pledges. Notably, the pledges come from developed
nations like France, the US, and Japan, but also from developing countries such as
Mexico, Indonesia, and Vietnam.[29]
Loss and Damage[edit]
A new issue that emerged as a focal point in the Paris negotiations rose from the
fact that many of the worst effects of climate change will be too severe or come too
quickly to be avoided by adaptation measures. [48]The Paris Agreement specifically
acknowledges the need to address loss and damage of this kind, and aims to find
appropriate responses.[48] It specifies that loss and damage can take various forms
both as immediate impacts from extreme weather events, and slow onset impacts,
such as the loss of land to sea-level rise for low-lying islands. [29]
The push to address loss and damage as a distinct issue in the Paris Agreement
came from the Alliance of Small Island States and the Least Developed Countries,
whose economies and livelihoods are most vulnerable to the negative impacts of
climate change.[29] Developed countries, however, worried that classifying the issue
as one separate and beyond adaptation measures would create yet another climate
finance provision, or might imply legal liability for catastrophic climate events.
In the end, all parties acknowledged the need for averting, minimizing, and
addressing loss and damage but notably excludes any mention of compensation or
liability.[9] The agreement also adopts the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss
and Damage, an institution that will attempt to address questions about how to
classify, address, and share responsibility for loss and damage. [48]
Enhanced Transparency Framework[edit]
While each Partys NDC is not legally binding, the Parties are legally bound to have
their progress tracked by technical expert review to assess achievement toward the
NDC, and to determine ways to strengthen ambition. [49] Article 13 of the Paris
Agreement articulates an enhanced transparency framework for action and
support that establishes harmonized monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV)
requirements. Thus, both developed and developing nations must report every two
years on their mitigation efforts, and all parties will be subject to both technical and
peer review.[49]
Flexibility Mechanisms[edit]
While the enhanced transparency framework is universal, along with the global
stocktaking to occur every 5 years, the framework is meant to provide built-in
flexibility to distinguish between developed and developing countries capacities.
In conjunction with this, the Paris Agreement has provisions for an enhanced
framework for capacity building.[50] The agreement recognizes the varying
circumstances of some countries, and specifically notes that the technical expert
review for each country consider that countrys specific capacity for reporting.
The agreement also develops a Capacity-Building Initiative for Transparency to
assist developing countries in building the necessary institutions and processes for
complying with the transparency framework. [50]
There are several ways in which flexibility mechanisms can be incorporated into the
enhanced transparency framework. The scope, level of detail, or frequency of
reporting may all be adjusted and tiered based on a countrys capacity. The
requirement for in-country technical reviews could be lifted for some less developed
or small island developing countries. Ways to assess capacity include financial and
human resources in a country necessary for NDC review. [50]
Within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, legal
instruments may be adopted to reach the goals of the convention. For the period
from 2008 to 2012, greenhouse gas reduction measures were agreed in the Kyoto
Protocol in 1997. The scope of the protocol was extended until 2020 with the Doha
Amendment to that protocol in 2012.[51]
During the 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference, the Durban
Platform (and the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced
Action) was established with the aim to negotiate a legal instrument
governing climate change mitigation measures from 2020. The resulting agreement
was to be adopted in 2015.[52]

Heads of delegations at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in

Main article: 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference
At the conclusion of COP 21 (the 21st meeting of the Conference of the Parties,
which guides the Conference), on 12 December 2015, the final wording of the Paris
Agreement was adopted by consensus by all of the 195 UNFCCC participating
member states and the European Union[3] to reduce emissions as part of the method
for reducing greenhouse gas. In the 12 page Agreement, [53] the members promised
to reduce their carbon output "as soon as possible" and to do their best to keep
global warming "to well below 2 degrees C" [3.6 degrees F]. [54]
Signature and entry into force[edit]

Signing by John Kerry in United Nations General Assembly Hall for the United States
The Paris Agreement is open for signature by States and regional economic
integration organizations that are Parties to the UNFCCC (the Convention) from 22
April 2016 to 21 April 2017 at the UN Headquarters in New York. [55]
The agreement stated that it would enter into force (and thus become fully
effective) only if 55 countries that produce at least 55% of the world's greenhouse
gas emissions(according to a list produced in 2015)[56] ratify, accept, approve or
accede to the agreement.[57][58] On 1 April 2016, the United States and China, which
together represent almost 40% of global emissions, issued a joint statement
confirming that both countries would sign the Paris Climate Agreement. [59][60] 175
Parties (174 states and the European Union) signed the treaty on the first date it
was open for signature.[5][61] On the same day, more than 20 countries issued a
statement of their intent to join as soon as possible with a view to joining in 2016.
With ratification by the European Union, the Agreement obtained enough parties to
enter into effect as of 4 November 2016.
European Union and its member states[edit]
Both the EU and its member states are individually responsible for ratifying the Paris
Agreement. A strong preference was reported that the EU and its 28 member states
deposit their instruments of ratification at the same time to ensure that neither the
EU nor its member states engage themselves to fulfilling obligations that strictly
belong to the other,[62] and there were fears that disagreement over each individual
member state's share of the EU-wide reduction target, as well as Britain's vote to
leave the EU might delay the Paris pact.[63] However, the European Parliament
approved ratification of the Paris Agreement on 4 October 2016, [6] and the EU
deposited its instruments of ratification on 5 October 2016, along with several
individual EU member states.[63]
Parties and signatories[edit]
As of November 2016, 192 states and the European Union have signed the
Agreement. 115 of those parties have ratified or acceded to the Agreement, most
notably China, the United States and India, the countries with three of the
largest greenhouse gas emissions of the signatories' total (about 42% together). [1][64]

The following UNFCCC member states are entitled to sign the Paris Agreement but
have not done so.

Iraq (0.20%) Syria (0.21%)

Nicaragua (0 Uzbekistan (0
.03%) .54%)
Critical reception[edit]
According to UNEP the emission cut targets in November 2016 will result in
temperature rise by 3 C above pre-industrial levels, far above the 2 C of the Paris
climate agreement.[72]
Perfectible accord[edit]
Al Gore stated that "no agreement is perfect, and this one must be strengthened
over time, but groups across every sector of society will now begin to reduce
dangerous carbon pollution through the framework of this agreement." [73]
According to a study published in Nature in June 2016, current country pledges are
too low to lead to a temperature rise below the Paris Agreement temperature limit
of "well below 2 C".[74][75]
Lack of binding enforcement mechanism[edit]
Although the agreement was lauded by many, including French President Francois
Hollande and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, [58] criticism has also surfaced.[citation
For example, James Hansen, a former NASA scientist and a climate change
expert, voiced anger that most of the agreement consists of "promises" or aims and
not firm commitments.[76]
Institutional asset owners associations and think-tanks such as the World Pensions
Council (WPC) have also observed that the stated objectives of the Paris Agreement
are implicitly "predicated upon an assumption that member states of the United
Nations, including high polluters such as China, the US, India, Brazil, Canada,
Russia, Indonesia and Australia, which generate more than half the worlds
greenhouse gas emissions, will somehow drive down their carbon pollution
voluntarily and assiduously without any binding enforcement mechanism to
measure and control CO2 emissions at any level from factory to state, and without
any specific penalty gradation or fiscal pressure (for example a carbon tax) to
discourage bad behaviour. A shining example of what Roman lawyers called circular
logic: an agreement (or argument) presupposing in advance what it wants to