The Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change, adopted in 2015 by 196 parties, including all UN member states. Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. The Agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change, and to support them in their efforts to transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient economies.
The Paris Agreement builds on the principles of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was adopted in 1992. It recognises the importance of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances. It also acknowledges the need for global cooperation and solidarity, and the role of non-state actors, such as cities, regions, businesses, and civil society, in addressing climate change.
The Paris Agreement establishes a number of mechanisms and institutions to support its implementation. These include the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which are the voluntary pledges that each country makes to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and/or enhance its sinks, such as forests. The NDCs are reviewed and updated every five years, and are supposed to reflect the highest possible ambition and the best available science.
The Paris Agreement also establishes a transparency framework, which requires countries to regularly report on their emissions and their progress towards their NDCs, and to undergo a peer review process. It also sets up a global stocktake, which will assess the collective progress towards the Agreement's goals, and inform the updating of the NDCs.
The Paris Agreement provides for the mobilisation of financial resources, technology transfer, and capacity building, to support the implementation of the Agreement, especially in developing countries. It establishes a goal of mobilizing $100 billion per year by 2020, from a variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral.
The Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4, 2016, and as of 2021, 190 parties have ratified it. However, the implementation of the Agreement faces numerous challenges, such as the lack of ambition of the NDCs, the insufficient mobilisation of financial resources, the slow pace of technological innovation and transfer, and the limited capacity of many countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The COVID-19 pandemic has also affected the implementation of the Agreement, by diverting attention and resources away from climate action. Nevertheless, the Paris Agreement represents a crucial step forward in the global response to climate change, and provides a framework for cooperation and action that will be essential in the coming years and decades.