Paris Agreement 101
Updated: Jul 14
One important sustainable event facing ups and downs in our nation worth mentioning relates to the Paris Agreement. Now that the United States rejoined this treaty, it is vital to expand our knowledge on the subject and analyze its impact on this country and the world. As Arthur Carmazzi said, “Every action we take impacts the lives of others around us.”
So, what is the Paris Agreement? The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines it as a “legally binding international treaty on climate change.” The agreement is considered in its early stages since it was proposed on December 12, 2015, by 196 parties during the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) and later installed on November 4, 2016. The main objective is to achieve global warming below 2 degrees Celsius from the one we had previously to the industrial levels.
Now, how do countries intend to achieve this goal? The idea is that each country that forms part of this agreement should strive to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emission to balance the world’s climate by mid-century. This treaty became one of its kind since it is the first binding agreement that connected all nation’s individual efforts into a big union where all parties join resources and information to reduce the negative climate changes and seek betterment for our ecosystem.
To create a united framework to express the countries’ long-term goals through the Paris Agreement, the treaty ask all parties to send their long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies (LT-LEDS). Despite not being mandatory, they help understand each participant's direction to support the union’s goal and how much progress and efforts could be connected with others with similar visions.
In the hope for social and economic change, nations need to be up to date with the latest technologies and social practices. The treaty then requires that countries submit their action plan for climate change every five years, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Different from the LT-LEDS, the NDCs are mandatory. During these NDC’s, each country explains how they intend to reduce their Greenhouse Gas Emission at levels that satisfy the Paris Agreement's long-term goal. Additionally, all countries need to state how they will build resilience to adapt to rising temperatures. With this being said, we can summarize that the Paris Agreement gives a proper foundation, so all parties possess the technical, capacity-building, and financial support they all need.
Sadly, as it is not news, not all nations have the financial capabilities to encourage such an ambitious project; however, this is why the Paris Agreement is considered necessary in our global warming efforts. This treaty is built so all developed countries lead all financial assistance to those less favored countries. This initiative, as seemingly well-intended, is the cause of various upsets as multiple citizens from such developed countries feel other nations are taking their resources. It is essential to consider that the founding of such projects are not bared solely by nations, as it allows voluntary donations by other interested parties. All these resources are vital for the likelihood of mitigation of damages from global warming and adaptation of negative effects as nations work to improve our climate’s quality of life.
However, financial support is not the only asset that countries can share. Through the Paris Agreement, all parties can share technology as well. They set a standard of what constitutes a proper tool for achieving the overarching goal. It is also encouraging to share potential benefits from their research to haste all technology developments to further their likelihood of improving our ecosystem.
As previously mentioned, the mutual share of information is a big part of the Paris Agreement; hence, starting in 2024, countries are requested to create an enhanced transparency framework (ETF). The initiative intends to generate clarity on all actions and progress from measures and support provided. Additionally, as stated by the UNFCCC, “it provides international procedures for the review of the submitted reports.” The ETF also permits a Global Stocktake, allowing parties to quantify how their actions are leading us to the intended goal and the possibilities to suggest alternative approaches that could help reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
Ever since the installment of the Paris Agreement, more entities are joining efforts creating carbon neutrality targets. It also creates opportunities for new markets to explore zero-carbon solutions in areas like transportation (Expected that this market becomes competitive by 2030 to a 70% of global emissions).
One example of how the United States is working to support the Paris Agreements' objective is reducing their Greenhouse Gas Emissions to 28 percent lower than 2005 levels by 2025. One suggestion is to use the Clean Power Plan, a statewide program to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector. Other countries that we can use as examples of the Paris Agreement’s efforts are Chile and Germany. Chile’s goal is to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of its GDP by 30% from 2007 levels by 2030. Their efforts make a significant impact on their environment, as they are expected to achieve their goal by 2025 and are no longer conditional on international support. Their relative success through this agreement made Chile state that they intend to continue their participation in international sustainable projects after finishing the 2050 year mark.
On the other hand, Germany set to cut emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. To achieve their goals, they passed their first national climate law in 2019. This law forced sectors like transportation and industry to reduces their emission until the year 2030. It is worth mentioning that Germany's national climate targets can only be raised and not lowered. All efforts these countries are making are being inspected by an independent council specializing in climate change. They help all participants what efforts are worth following and what others could require adjustments.
A noteworthy mention is that not all countries are expected to have the same impact as others. The agreement takes the resources and all challenges a country may be facing into account. All countries are setting their goals to ensure they do their part of the agreement through percentages. Using Chile’s Example, despite being a good improvement, even if all countries set their target to the 30% Chile did, the global warming levels would not reduce enough to seize the consequences of sudden climate change. Thusly, we can state they we need more ambitious goals.
After knowing the basics of the Paris Agreement, what are your thoughts? Would you agree that it is necessary to solve sustainable matters, or do you think nations and governments should explore different alternatives?
Appunn, Kerstine, et al. “Germany's Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Energy Transition Targets.” Clean Energy Wire, Clean Energy Wire, 12 May 2021, www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/germanys-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-climate-targets#:~:text=Germany's%20national%20climate%20targets&text=It%20has%20set%20the%20preliminary,transport%20until%20the%20year%202030.
Denchak, Melissa. “Paris Climate Agreement: Everything You Need to Know.” NRDC, 28 Apr. 2021, www.nrdc.org/stories/paris-climate-agreement-everything-you-need-know.
Leprince-Ringuet, Noëmie. “Chile's Enhanced Climate Plan Sets an Example for Other Countries.” World Resources Institute, 7 July 2020, www.wri.org/insights/chiles-enhanced-climate-plan-sets-example-other-countries#:~:text=Topline%20Greenhouse%20Gas%20Targets%20Closer,to%20131%20MtCO2e%20in%202030.
“The Paris Agreement.” United Nations Climate Change, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Sept. 2020, unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement.