Key Elements of the “Paris Agreement” On Climate Change

On 12 June 2015, the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted what is called the “Paris Agreement”.  This Agreement will be open to ratification from 22 April 2016 to 21 April 2017 and will enter into force 30 days after ratification by 55 Parties to the Agreement representing at least 55% of global emissions.  The following is a brief summary of the key elements of the Paris Agreement.  The complete Agreement can be found HERE.

Article 2 of the Agreement states that the primary aim is to,

               “… strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change… by:

  • 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; 
  • Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production; 
  • Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.”

Article 4 of the Agreement further states that,

  • “In order to achieve the long-term temperature goal, … Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible …. and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science, so as to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.
  • Each Party shall prepare, communicate and maintain successive nationally determined contributions that it intends to achieve.
  • Each Party’s successive nationally determined contribution will represent a progression beyond the Party’s then current nationally determined contribution and reflect its highest possible ambition.

Article 14 of the Agreement states that,

 “…the Parties to the Agreement shale periodically ‘take stock’ of the implementation of this Agreement to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of this Agreement and its long-term goals”. [The first such stock taking is to occur in 2023].

Article 15 of the Agreement sets up an expert-led committee to,

“…facilitate implementation of and promote compliance with the provisions of this Agreement”

There are numerous other provisions of the Agreement dealing with adaption to climate change and financial support to developing nations.