The Paris Agreement
In this article, Anant JAIN (ESSEC Business School, Grande Ecole – Master in Management, 2019-2022) talks the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement is a global agreement that intends to keep global average temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the 21st century, with efforts to keep it below 1.5 degrees.
The Paris Agreement was drafted during the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC21) and signed on December 12, 2015. The agreement was ratified on April 22, 2016, which was recognized as Earth Day by the United Nations, and was signed by all 196 UNFCCC members. In June 2017, President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, claiming that it was not in the country’s best interests to do so.
Greenhouse gas emissions are considered as the primary cause of global warming.
To accomplish the agreement’s objectives, scientists have agreed that global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced. As a result, the 20/20/20 targets were established: a 20% reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a 20% increase in renewable energy market share, and a 20% increase in energy efficiency through current technology such as insulation. The signatories are obligated to put efforts through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and to continue to do so in the future. This includes the duty to report on national emissions and decarbonization initiatives on a regular basis.
To keep global warming to a maximum of two degrees Celsius by 2100, scientists agree that the world will need to become carbon neutral by 2050. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a study in October 2018 warning that in order to meet the lower 1.5-degree objective, emissions must be reduced by 40-60% from 2010 levels by 2030, with net zero by 2050. To meet the less ambitious 2-degree objective, emissions must be reduced by 25%. Failure to do either will result in irreversible climate change beginning around 2030, according to the paper. According to the IPCC, if current levels of (in)activity continue, the 2-degree target will most likely be met by 2030, with global warming of 3 degrees by the end of the century becoming increasingly likely. The IPCC also warned in September 2019 that unless the world takes action now, sea levels will increase by at least one meter by 2100.
According to studies, CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels for power, heating, cooling, and transportation is the primary cause of global warming. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere in 2017 were last seen on Earth three million years ago, according to research from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact. Before humans originated, the average surface temperature was 2-3 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels, and the average sea level was up to 25 meters higher than it is today during the Pliocene Era.
The Working Process
The Paris Agreement’s implementation necessitates economic and societal transformations based on the best available knowledge. The Paris Agreement is structured on a five-year cycle in which countries take more ambitious climate action each year. Countries must submit their climate action plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020.
Countries need to establish the steps that they will take to alleviate greenhouse gas emissions in their NDCs to align with the Paris Agreement’s agendas. Countries also outline the activities they plan to take to build resilience and adapt to the effects of rising temperatures.
The Paris Agreement called for nations to draft and submit long-term low-carbon development strategies by 2020 in order to effectively define their efforts toward the long-term goal (LT-LEDS).
The long-term vision offered by LT-LEDS is beneficial to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). They are not required, unlike NDCs. Irrespective, they place the NDCs in the context of countries’ long-term planning and development goals, giving them a vision and direction for future development.
How are countries supporting one another?
The Paris Agreement establishes a framework for assisting developing countries with financial, technical, and capacity-building support.
The Paris Agreement maintains that affluent countries should lead in providing financial support to less developed and vulnerable countries, while also encouraging voluntary contributions from other Parties for the first time. Since large financial resources are required to adjust to the negative effects of climate change and mitigate its consequences, it is imperative to adapt climate finance (financing that supports projects to contribute to climate change).
The Paris Agreement outlines a goal of fully implementing technological development and transfer in order to improve climate change resilience while also lowering greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) emissions. Through its policy and implementation arms, the mechanism is increasing technology development and transfer.
Many of the issues posed by climate change are beyond the capabilities of many developing countries. As a result, the Paris Agreement places a strong emphasis on developing nations’ climate-related capacity-building efforts and calls on all wealthy countries to increase their assistance for such efforts.
How are we tracking progress?
Countries adopted a more transparent framework with the Paris Agreement known as the Enhanced Transparency Framework (or ETF) to report information. Starting in 2024, countries will be required to report honestly on their activities and progress in climate change mitigation, adaptation, and support offered or received under the ETF. It also establishes worldwide protocols for the examination of reports provided.
The data from the ETF will be incorporated into the Global Stocktake, which will assess how far we’ve progressed toward our long-term climate goals. This will lead to recommendations for countries to establish more ambitious targets in the next phase.
What have we achieved so far?
Even though massive improvements in climate change action are required to reach the Paris Agreement’s goals, low-carbon solutions and new markets have already emerged in the years after it went into effect. A growing number of governments, regions, cities, and corporations are setting carbon neutrality goals. Zero-carbon solutions are becoming more competitive across a variety of economic sectors that account for 25% of total emissions. This trend is especially obvious in the electricity and transportation sectors, and it has opened up a slew of new business opportunities for those who get in early.
By 2030, zero-carbon solutions may be competitive in industries that account for more than 70% of world emissions.
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About the author
The article was written in May 2022 by Anant JAIN (ESSEC Business School, Grande Ecole – Master in Management, 2019-2022).