Climate change is a global challenge that demands collective action. In 2015, 196 countries came together to adopt a landmark agreement known as the Paris Agreement. This article aims to demystify the Paris Accord, explaining its key components and shedding light on its significance in the fight against climate change.
Understanding the Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement is a crucial international treaty developed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Adopted in December 2015, it officially came into force on November 4, 2016. The primary objective is clear: to reduce and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
Before delving into the details of the agreement, it’s essential to highlight the process leading up to it. Prior to the Paris Conference (COP 21), nations were required to submit their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), outlining their commitments to addressing climate change. This marked a significant shift in global climate commitments, with countries like India playing a responsible role in tackling environmental challenges.
The Paris Agreement faced a setback in 2017 when the United States, under President Trump, announced its intention to withdraw. However, with a change in leadership, the U.S. officially rejoined the agreement in 2021.
Key Components of the Paris Agreement
- Temperature Goals: The Paris Climate Accord aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and ideally limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.
- Emission Reduction Targets: Participating countries commit to peaking their greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible to achieve a climate-neutral world by mid-century.
- Financial and Technological Support: The agreement recognizes the obligation of developed countries to provide financial and technological support to developing nations, helping them cope with the impacts of climate change.
- 20/20/20 Targets: Countries agree to specific targets, including a 20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, a 20% increase in the renewable energy market share, and a 20% improvement in energy efficiency.
Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)
NDCs are individual country commitments to the global goal. These contributions, reported every five years to the UNFCCC, are not legally binding. The idea is to ensure that all nations have the technical and financial capacity to meet climate challenges.
Climate Ambition Summit 2020
To commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, the Climate Ambition Summit was held in Glasgow, Scotland, starting on December 12, 2020. The summit provided a platform for leaders to showcase their commitment to the Paris Agreement across mitigation, adaptation, and financial commitments.
Global Emission Status After 5 Years
While progress has been made, the global community falls short of the targets set by the Paris Agreement. China, the largest emitter, along with the U.S. and the EU, contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. However, some countries, including India, Bhutan, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Morocco, and Gambia, have complied with the accord.
India’s Climate Efforts
India has taken substantial steps to control emissions, with initiatives like the National Solar Mission, adherence to Bharat Stage VI norms, and the National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy. India’s per capita emissions are notably lower than the global average.
Differences from the Kyoto Protocol
Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement eliminates the distinction between developed and developing countries. Additionally, it introduces international transfers of mitigation outcomes, allowing countries to include emission reductions from other nations in their NDCs. The Kyoto Protocol primarily relied on a system of national targets and market-based mechanisms like the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and emissions trading to achieve emission reductions.
A groundbreaking feature of the Paris Agreement is the inclusion of international transfers of mitigation outcomes under Article 6. This allows countries to engage in cooperative approaches, including emissions trading and the use of internationally transferred mitigation outcomes (ITMOs). Countries can collaborate across borders, enabling a more flexible and inclusive approach to achieving emission reduction goals. It breaks away from the earlier notion that emissions reductions were solely the responsibility of individual nations.
The Kyoto Protocol set emission reduction targets for a specific commitment period (2008-2012) with subsequent commitment periods requiring renegotiation. The Paris Agreement introduces the concept of regularly updating and enhancing NDCs. Countries are encouraged to submit more ambitious contributions every five years, reflecting advancements in technology and the evolving understanding of climate science. This adaptability ensures that the agreement remains relevant and responsive to the changing global context
Financial Support Pledged
Developed countries have committed $100 billion annually to support developing nations in their climate-related efforts. This finance is balanced between mitigation and adaptation, emphasizing global cooperation.
Article 6 of the Paris Agreement
Article 6 plays a crucial role in helping governments establish and implement NDCs. It also aims to establish a global price for carbon, holding countries accountable for exceeding their NDCs.
India’s Stand at COP 21
India, despite its growing energy needs, has committed to substantial emission reduction targets. Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted India’s achievements, including a 21% reduction in global emissions compared to 2005 levels.
The Paris Agreement stands as a beacon of hope in the battle against climate change. While challenges persist, global cooperation is essential to meet the ambitious goals set forth. As we navigate a future defined by environmental responsibility, understanding the Paris Accord becomes pivotal for individuals worldwide.