Nations Approve Landmark Climate Agreement in Paris

At the Paris climate conference (COP 21) in December 2015, over 190 countries adopted a comprehensive agreement on climate change. Here are the key points of the Paris agreement:

  • The agreement calls for “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”  
  • To achieve the above goal, the world will “reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country parties, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter.”
  • Starting in 2023, countries will submit updated climate plans – called nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – every five years, thereby steadily increasing their ambition in the long-term.
  • The agreement directs developed countries to continue to reduce emissions in absolute terms. Developing countries should continue mitigation efforts and can gradually move towards absolute cuts.
  • The agreement announces that the first stocktake will occur in 2023, to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the agreement and its long-term goals.
  • All nations will be subject to a common framework of transparency, with built-in flexibility which takes into account differences in capacities of countries.
  • Developed countries shall provide financial resources to assist developing countries with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention.  Other countries are encouraged to provide or continue to provide such support voluntarily.
  • The agreement recognises “loss and damage” associated with climate change related disasters in island-nations threatened by rising seas.  However, this provision “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation.”

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