The Paris Agreement is a universal, legally binding climate protection treaty. After four years of negotiations, it was introduced during the Paris climate summit in December 2015 (COP21). In the beginning, 190 parties have ratified it, including the European Union countries, the USA and India. The agreement sets common, long-term goals for the signatory countries.
The Paris agreement key points
The first and most important aim is to keep the increase of global temperature below 2°C (relative to pre-industrial levels) and to continue efforts to reduce warming to 1.5°C. The second most important task is strengthening countries climate resilience and GHGs-emitting developments. Third task: developed economies have pledged financial support for less developed countries. Funding is targeted at investments that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote climate resilience.
Importantly, these targets are to be achieved following the principle of equity. This means that the responsibility for achieving them is shared but differentiated according to each country’s capabilities.
Road to net-zero
To meet the long-term goals, the parties to the Paris Agreement have committed primarily to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The desired balance between anthropogenic CO2 emissions (i.e. those for which humans are responsible) and their sequestration is thus to be achieved in the second half of the century. In the case of developing countries, it may take longer. By 2050, the first countries are to become net-zero heroes.
The treaty does not impose any specific actions on the signatories. Each participant of the Paris Agreement has pledged to voluntarily develop and implement its own strategies at the national level. These are referred to as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and reported to the other parties every five years. Importantly, each successive plan should be more ambitious than the previous strategy.
The Paris Agreement also includes agreements related to supporting developing countries financially. According to this document, developed countries should provide USD 100 billion annually to developing countries, thus accelerating emissions reductions and climate change adaptations.
The Paris Agreement today
By December 2020, the Paris Agreement had been ratified by 188 countries and the European Union (which is counted as a separate party to the agreement, regardless of member countries). It is worth mentioning the case of United States: in 2019, with the decision of President Donald Trump, the USA withdrew from the agreement. However, in January 2021, President Joe Biden announced the return of the US to the Paris Agreement.
On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the SYSTEMIQ centre has prepared an analysis of the actions taken. Among other things, it notes that the signing of the treaty was followed by an acceleration in the development of low-carbon technologies in all sectors of the economy. Moreover, countries and companies accounting for more than 50% of global GDP have adopted climate neutrality goals.
In light of the latest IPCC report, there is still much to be done! Regardless of systemic solutions, each of us can also act to protect the climate and the environment. Follow the TerGo blog to find out more!