What Is the Paris Agreement and Why Is It Significant
While the Paris Agreement is not perfect, it is important because it is the first major climate agreement of its kind and represents a global step towards solving a problem that deeply affects the entire world. The Paris Agreement is a historic first step, but it cannot be the last. Paris Agreement, 2015. The largest global climate agreement to date, the Paris Agreement, requires all countries to make commitments to reduce emissions. Governments set targets, known as Nationally Determined Contributions, with the aim of preventing the global average temperature from rising by 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels and striving to keep it below 1.5°C (2.7°F). It also aims to achieve net-zero global emissions in the second half of the century, when the amount of greenhouse gases emitted is equal to the amount removed from the atmosphere. (This is also known as carbon neutral or carbon neutral.) Previous commitments could raise global temperatures by up to 2.7°C, but the agreement sets out a roadmap to accelerate progress. The Kyoto Protocol, a landmark environmental treaty adopted at COP3 in Japan in 1997, is the first time that countries have agreed on country-specific emission reduction targets that are legally mandated. The protocol, which only entered into force in 2005, set binding emission reduction targets only for developed countries, based on the assumption that they were responsible for most of the Earth`s high greenhouse gas emissions. The United States first signed the agreement, but never ratified it; President George W. Bush argued that the deal would hurt the U.S. economy because it would not include developing countries such as China and India.
Without the participation of these three countries, the effectiveness of the treaty proved limited, as its objectives covered only a small fraction of total global emissions. The initial commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol was until 2012. This year, delegates at COP18 in Doha, Qatar, agreed to extend the agreement until 2020 (excluding some developed countries that had withdrawn). They also reaffirmed their 2011 commitment at COP17 in Durban, South Africa, to create a new comprehensive climate agreement by 2015 that would commit all major emitters not covered by the Kyoto Protocol – such as China, India and the United States – to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The new treaty – the future Paris Agreement – is expected to completely replace the Kyoto Protocol by 2020. However, the Paris Agreement entered into force earlier than planned, in November 2016. In quantifying the damage that carbon pollution does to society, Trump views America as an island in itself — and we all know what climate change is doing to the islands. Recognizing that many developing countries and small island states that have contributed the least to climate change could suffer the most from its consequences, the Paris Agreement includes a plan for developed countries – and others that are “able to do so” – to continue to provide funds to help developing countries mitigate and increase their resilience to climate change. The agreement builds on financial commitments from the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, which aimed to increase public and private climate finance for developing countries to $100 billion a year by 2020. (To put this in perspective, global military spending in 2017 alone amounted to about $1.7 trillion, more than a third of which came from the United States.) The Copenhagen Compact also created the Green Climate Fund to help mobilize transformative financing with targeted public funds. The Paris Agreement set hope that the world would set a higher annual target by 2025 to build on the $100 billion target for 2020 and put in place mechanisms to achieve that scale. Currently, 197 countries – every nation on earth, the last signatory being war-torn Syria – have adopted the Paris Agreement.
Of these, 179 have solidified their climate proposals with formal approval – including the US for now. The only major emitting countries that have not yet officially joined the deal are Russia, Turkey and Iran. Unlike previous climate agreements, the Paris Agreement is entirely voluntary. This means that while the agreement requires each country to submit an NDC plan, there are no provisions on how and to what extent countries should reduce their emissions. .