What is Paris Agreement?


The Paris Agreement is a global convention ratified by 196 countries during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in 2015, aiming to address climate change challenges. Its primary purpose is to limit the global temperature increase to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, striving for a more ambitious target of 1.5°C.

This agreement mandates countries to undertake efforts to reduce carbon emissions. A key aspect of the agreement is the framework it establishes for transparency, collaboration, and accountability. This involves setting rules for tracking, reporting, and enhancing each nation’s climate commitments over time. It recognizes that exceeding a temperature rise of 1.5°C could lead to severe climate-related repercussions, such as intense droughts and unpredictable rains.

How Does the Paris Agreement Work?

The Paris Agreement operates on a five-year cycle, during which nations enhance their climate commitments. Here’s how the process is structured:

1. Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs): Every five years, countries submit an updated NDC, which details their plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Agreement’s targets. These plans also discuss measures to enhance resilience against climate change impacts.

2. Global Stocktake: This is a regular review mechanism to evaluate collective progress. Its purpose is to inspire countries to limit global warming to 1.5°C. It serves as a checkpoint to ensure nations are on track and to motivate enhanced commitment.

3. Long-term Strategies: Beyond the five-year cycles, the Agreement emphasizes the need for countries to develop long-term strategies. This ensures sustained commitment to the Agreement’s goals.

4. Paris Rulebook: Finalized in 2021, the Paris Rulebook is essential for the Agreement’s operation. It provides guidelines and procedures for countries, ensuring transparency and accountability. Through this rulebook, nations continually refine and enhance their NDCs.

Implementing the Paris Agreement requires deep cultural and economic transformations, guided by the latest scientific research.

Also Read: What is Climate Change Mitigation?

What are the Key Aspects of the Paris Agreement?

The Paris Agreement, which serves as the most important decision in the fight against climate change, is focused on the following aspects:

1. Long-Term Temperature Objective (Article 2): The goal is to keep global temperature rises to far below 2°C, with a 1.5°C increase being the target.

2. Global Emission Targets (Article 4): Parties work to achieve a peak in greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that developing countries may take longer. By the end of this century, the goal is to balance emissions with absorption systems.

3. Mitigation (Article 4): All Parties agree to submit a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) every five years outlining their emission-cutting strategies. Each NDC strives to outperform previous efforts.

4. Sinks and Reservoirs (Article 5): Parties are advised to protect and improve greenhouse gas sinks and reservoirs, such as forests.

5. Voluntary Cooperation/Market- and Non-Market-Based Approaches (Article 6): The Agreement encourages voluntary cooperation among nations, with a focus on transparent and accountable emission-reduction techniques.

6. Adaptation (Article 7): A global goal has been established to strengthen resilience and adaptable capacity. All nations contribute to adaptation activities, including enacting National Adaptation Plans and periodic updates on adaptation strategies.

7. Loss and Damage (Article 8): The Agreement emphasizes the importance of dealing with climate-related losses caused by both immediate and long-term events.

8. Finance, Technology and Capacity-Building Support (Articles 9, 10, and 11): The Agreement requires industrialized countries to assist developing countries in achieving sustainable futures by balancing adaptation and mitigation.

It promotes voluntary contributions and requires developed countries to submit biennial financial reports. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is at the center of these initiatives, with a strong emphasis on technology collaboration and capacity-building in developing countries.

9. Climate Change Education, Training, Public Awareness, Public Participation, And Public Access to Information (Article 12): The Agreement emphasizes widening climate education, public awareness, involvement, and information accessibility.

10. Transparency (Article 13), implementation and compliance (Article 15): A solid structure is in place to assure clarity on activities and support from Parties, with flexibility based on their various capacities. Each party’s information will be reviewed by international experts. There is also a framework in place to facilitate implementation and encourage compliance in a constructive, non-punitive manner, with annual reporting to the CMA.

11. Global Stocktake (Article 14): A periodic evaluation, beginning in 2023 and repeated every five years, will gauge collective progress towards the Agreement’s aims, drawing insights from the latest scientific data. The outcomes will serve as a guide for Parties in refining their efforts, increasing support, and stepping up global engagement.

12. Decision 1/CP.21: Details actions before 2020 like technical assessments and enhanced support. Recognizes contributions from non-Party stakeholders e.g., businesses, civic groups, regional governments. It promotes the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action platform and emphasizes supporting local communities and indigenous groups’ initiatives.

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