The Paris Climate Agreement: key points
- February 1, 2018
- Posted by: admin
- Category: General Knowledge
Negotiations for the Paris Agreement started in Durban, South Africa at the COP17 with the establishment of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, commonly known as the Durban Platform. The Parties to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) agreed to establish a working group to negotiate “another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force” by 2015 at COP21 (Conference of Parties).The result of the 21st (COP21) of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) held in Paris from November 30th to December 12th, 2015 was the Paris Agreement. The agreement was adopted on 12th December, 2105the last day of the conference.The Agreement aims to respond to the global climate change threat by keeping 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.
Almost a year after the agreement was adopted the Paris Agreement came into force on 4th November, 2016. The agreement came into force only after fifty five parties to the convention which accounted for fifty five percent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions deposited their instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession. Till date 174 parties of the 197 parties to the convention have submitted their ratification to the depository.
Issues concerning the future and viability of Paris Agreement started to make headlines again in 2017 because U.S. president announced his intention to withdraw from the agreement. President Donald Trump criticised the agreement for it dealt with the myth of global warming and stated that it hindered America’s development of clean coal. The withdrawal from the agreement was condemned throughout the world. In an interview with BBC Stephen Hawking commented that the decision could be catastrophic, and lead to permanent damage to the climate. “We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible,”To placate the worldwide condemnation of withdrawal from the agreement president Trump put forth an option to renegotiate the terms of the agreement and thereby continue to be party to the convention. The proposal of renegotiation was rejected because as per the agreement parties can withdraw from the agreement but reservation and modification of its 29 Articles is prohibited.
Withdrawing from the agreement in June 2107 left U.S. to join Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not participating in the global accord. However by the end of 2017 Nicaragua and Syria became a signatory to the Paris Agreement leaving out U.S. as the only country not participating in the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement is seen as a successor of the Kyoto Protocol the commitment period of which is due to end in 2020. The Kyoto Protocol was the first international agreement of its kind, a revelation that would stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the climate to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. Flash floods, rising sea levels, record droughts and extreme weather would all to be resigned to the books of history. Despite the fact that the Kyoto Protocol failed to fulfil its ambitious aims the Paris Agreement is welcomed with an optimistic zeal. The eventual goal of both the agreement was to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and limit the global warming, though the intermediary goals haves key differences as stated below:
- i) Well Defined Aims: The goal of Kyoto Protocol was to reduce the carbon emissions by some extent, while that of Paris Agreement is to limit the temperature rise to two degree Celsius from pre-industrial levels.
- ii) The focus of Kyoto Protocol was to reduce the use of fossil fuels and stop deforestation, while Paris Agreement is primarily focused on switching to renewable energy.
iii) The Kyoto Protocol did not emphasize on technology transfer and international collaboration in areas of research and development, on the other hand the Paris Agreement clearly mentions the collaboration between countries to develop environment-friendly technologies.
Apart from the improvement on several terms which were part of the Kyoto Protocol the Paris Agreement also provides support systems to achieve its aims. The agreement obliges the developed countries to create a Green Climate Fund of about $100 billion to help developing countries to achieve their goals. Additionally the Agreement also promotes international collaboration to develop environment-friendly technologies, besides technology transfer to developing countries.
Setting aside these differences some believe that a more apt title for the Paris Agreement would be Kyoto 2.0 because of the similarities in its aims and objectives. However what they fail to analyse is that Paris deal loops in more countries than the Kyoto Protocol and gives them more flexibility to meet goals. Whether the Paris Agreement will be able to achieve its aims or it will lead many parties to eventually abandon the terms of the agreement because of its non-binding nature only time can tell. On a positive note a recent study showed that India was among the handful of major polluters that is on track to achieve the national targets set to address climate change under the Paris Agreement. The Indian industry and businesses, too, are taking cue from the policy signals and climate related measures being implemented by the government. Companies in the BSE Top 200 are setting targets to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide their operations produce, increasing the use of renewable energy and making their units more efficient in order to from the policy signals and climate related measures being implemented by the government.
The Paris agreement if implemented in its letter and spirit would undoubtedly be a turning point in the history of common human endeavour, capturing the combined political, economic and social will of governments, cities, regions and businesses and investors to overcome the existential threat of unchecked climate change.