The Paris Agreement
A historic agreement was struck at the COP21 in Paris on December 12th 2015, providing a new framework for global climate action.
The 197 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), adopted the Paris Agreement, focused on ambitious efforts of climate change mitigation, adaptation and finance. The Paris Agreement is an important step towards strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change by pursing actions to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius and support efforts to further limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The Paris Agreement stipulates:
- Parties are obliged to contribute through NDCs
The Paris Agreement obliges Parties to present Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), action plans which stipulate emission reduction efforts. On behalf of Denmark and the other Member States, the EU presented one total reduction contribution. The contribution is a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 40 percent by 2030 as compared to 1990 levels. Emissions reductions are distributed among Member States through negotiations within the EU. For Denmark and the EU, it was crucial that the Paris Agreement ensure concrete action by countries to limit emissions. As of November 2017, 170 Parties have submitted their first NDC, covering 195 nations. The climate plans include reductions that cover more than 95 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions. For comparison, the Kyoto protocol comprises 38 countries and accounts for less than 15 percent of total global emissions.
- Long-term goals of emission reductions
The Paris Agreement stipulates a long-term goal of stabilizing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius and to further strive to curb temperature rise of to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, the Paris Agreement urges that global greenhouse gas emissions peak as soon as possible, followed by rapid emission reductions. The intended pathway aims to stabilize emissions and reduce negative impacts by the second half of this century.
- Common stocktaking rules of national climate efforts
According to the Paris Agreement, a transparent and independent regulatory system should be established to take stock of the progress Parties are making in achieving their emission reductions. The regulatory system will facilitate progress evaluation to ensure reliable stocktaking, along with tracking target achievement to fulfil the long-term goals and commitments of the Paris Agreement.
- Ambition mechanism to ensure a continuously increasing effort
The agreement contains an ambition mechanism which takes stock of efforts and aims to ratchet up the level of ambition of national climate actions every five years. The ambition mechanism contributes to a continuous increase of the global effort of a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The ambition mechanism allows for the Paris Agreement to be improved over time. This is crucial, as current NDCs do not go far enough to reduce emissions to keep global temperature increase below two degrees. Consequently, continuously increasing the level of ambition through renewed efforts plays a pivotal role. In accordance with the ambition mechanism, Parties are subject to review their NDCs every five years and to take a stock as to the fulfilment of the long-term goal of the agreement. The ongoing evaluation process, commits Parties to submit their targets, each of which must be progressively more ambitious than the last.
- Climate financing for developing countries
In the Paris Agreement, Parties commit to mobilise 100 billion USD a year from public and private sources starting from 2020 for climate mitigation and adaptation efforts to assist developing countries.
A new goal for financing for developing countries shall be set no later than 2025 for the subsequent period. The Paris Agreement makes it possible for more countries to contribute to the financing system.
- Entry into force and further negotiation processes
The Paris Agreement entered into effect on November 4th 2016, as the requirement of ratification by at least 55 countries, representing at least 55 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions was met. Danish ratification was made as a parliamentary resolution and thereafter as a joint EU resolution. Future work will focus on constitutive and implementation elements of the agreement. In the coming years, negotiations will be particularly concentrated on the ambition mechanism and climate financing for developing countries, as well as technical codes of practice, market mechanisms and reporting rules.