- The Paris Agreement on climate change is a milestone in global climate cooperation. It recognizes the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the light of different national circumstances.
- Future direction sets a goal for individual commitments: A long term goal to limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius, aiming for 1.5 degrees Celsius, by the end of the century (Article 2)
- Regular review tracks progress and requires progression of commitments: A system of ‘review and ratchet’ determined by five year cycles of review where parties must revise targets and nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to ensure they ‘reflect the highest possible ambition’ and demonstrate progression over time (Articles 3 and 4),
- Self-differentiation and flexibility to dilute the split between developed and developing states: Many articles set obligations on ‘all parties’, with a caveat that action can be determined by their ‘national circumstances’, creating flexibility for states to opt out, but also the ability for states to take on responsibilities as much as possible,
- Accountability through a hybrid approach to compliance and transparent reporting requirements: A transparency system that embeds monitoring, verification and reporting in national policy. This is to be communicated at the regular review intervals and enhanced through a ‘global stocktake’ every five years and a facilitative compliance committee (Articles 13, 14 and 15),
- Finance flows for mitigation and adaptation through an agreed amount to be contributed by developed and developing countries: States should contribute funds to meet a $100 billion target by 2020 and include climate finance targets in nationally determined contributions (Article 5).
- Significant pledges to support action on climate change before the new agreement takes effect were made, including a new pledge of up to US$5 billion for REDD+; and
- The Consumer Goods Forum Co-chairs, Unilever and Marks & Spencer, unveiled their “Produce and Protect” commitment, a new kind of public-private partnership in addition to and supportive of current commitments to net zero deforestation
Different from previous agreements
- Unlike previous agreements which put all the responsibility for reducing emissions on rich countries, in the Paris Agreement, all 196 signatories agreed that every country must take action, while acknowledging that richer countries should start immediately and cut emissions more steeply, while poorer countries’ contributions will depend on their individual situations.
India and Paris agreement
- With the United States, China and 59 other countries who account for 48% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions ratifying the Paris climate change agreement, India’s decision to ratify without any further delay was a sensible move.
- It will give India a seat at the high table where 55 countries who account for 55% of the world’s GHG emissions will meet to decide how to go about meeting the targets and the commitments needed to keep average global temperature rise under 2 degree Celsius.
- Now that the decision to ratify has been taken, India must gear up towards meeting three key commitments which are in India’s INDC
- Reducing GHG emissions in 2030 by 33-35% from 2005 levels.
- Scale up share of non-fossil fuels to 40% of total energy production.
- Create an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes through enhancing forest and tree cover, all by 2020