GHG Situation / Paris Agreement

Paris Agreement

On 12 December 2015, the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21), meeting in Paris, France, adopted the Paris Agreement: the latest legal instrument adopted under the framework of the UNFCCC, subsequent to the Kyoto Protocol and its Doha Amendment. The Agreement sets a new international legal regime with stronger ambition for all Parties, by aiming to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty, including by (Article 2):

(a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing 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;

(b) 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; and

(c) Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.

In order to achieve the long-term temperature goal, Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter, 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. (Article 4.1)

The Paris Agreement takes a comprehensive and balanced approach by addressing all components, including mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, means of implementation i.e. finance, technology development and transfer and capacity-building, as well as transparency of action and support, and set to periodically take stock of the implementation of the Agreement to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of this Agreement and its long-term goals (Global stocktake).

The contributions of Parties under the Agreement are nationally-determined. Article 4 requires each Party to prepare, communicate (every 5 years) and maintain successive nationally determined contributions (NDC) that it intends to achieve. The subsequent NDC will represent a progression beyond the Party's then current NDC and reflect its highest possible ambition and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC), in the light of different national circumstances.

The Agreement further specifies that developed country Parties should continue taking the lead by undertaking economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets, while developing country Parties should continue enhancing their mitigation efforts, and are encouraged to move over time towards economy-wide emission reduction or limitation targets. (Article 4.4)

Importantly, the Agreement recognizes the use of voluntary cooperation among Parties in the implementation of their NDCs, and set obligations for Parties, when engaging on a voluntary basis in cooperative approaches that involve the use of internationally transferred mitigation outcomes (ITMOs) towards NDCs, which must be undertaken consistent with guidance adopted by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to this Agreement (CMA). The Agreement further establishes a mechanism to contribute to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainable development, under the authority and guidance of the CMA. (Article 6)

The aforementioned cooperative approaches and mechanism does not exclude and, potentially, could lead to the operationalization of the use of international market mechanisms under the Paris Agreement in the future.

For further information on the Paris Agreement: