Paris Agreement and Climate Change

Introduction

The Paris Agreement is an international treaty on climate change which is legally binding. It was adopted on 12th December 2015 by 196 parties at the Conference of the Parties (COP) 21 and it came into force on 4th November 2016. The goal of this agreement is to limit global warming to almost 2 degrees Celsius but ideally 1.5 degrees Celsius, as compared to the pre-industrial levels. Every country creates an NDC (Nationally Determined Contributions) wherein the countries mention the actions they will take to reduce their Greenhouse Gas emissions. The Paris Agreement also recognizes the financial differences of the countries and says that the developed countries should take the lead when it comes to providing financial assistance and help the vulnerable countries. The progress of the agreement is being tracked by the creation of the Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF), under which, starting from 2024, the countries will report on the actions taken and the progress, transparently.

COP 26

The 26th Conference of the Parties was originally scheduled from 9th to 19th November 2020 but due to COVID-19, it was postponed to 1st to 12th November 2021, in Glasgow, UK. Several unresolved issues from the Paris Agreement are to be resolved during this Conference, such as governing of carbon markets and the accountancy of climate finance. The developing nations pointed fingers at the rich nations to fulfil their promise of finance. They also highlighted the lack of urgency from the recent G7 and G20 summits.

COP 26 has to finalize the rulebook that implements the 2015 Agreement. The nations have to give the climate-vulnerable nations the $100 billion annually as promised in 2009. They have called for almost 50% of funding to be allocated towards future climate adaptation, plus a separate allocation for the loss and damage that has already been inflicted on the poor nations.   

Other Climate Change Agreements

Montreal Protocol, 1987 – This agreement is not aimed towards dealing with climate change however it is an important environmental agreement. This agreement required the countries which have ratified it, to stop producing products that damage the ozone layer, such as, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 1992 – This is the first-ever global treaty that directly addresses climate change. This treaty established the annual forum named the Conference of the Parties (COP). Agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement came into existence through these forums.

Kyoto Protocol, 2005 – It was adopted in 1997 and came into force in 2005, it is known as the first legally binding climate treaty. The goal of this treaty is to reduce emissions by an average of 5% below the 1990 levels although the treaty did not force developing countries.

Effects of Global Warming

  • Shrinking of Glaciers
  • Ice on rivers and lakes break earlier than usual
  • Plants and animal ranges have shifted
  • Trees flower sooner
  • Loss of sea ice
  • Accelerated rise of sea level
  • Intense heatwaves
  • More droughts
  • Changes in precipitation patterns
  • The frequency of cyclones will increase and will be more intense
  • The Arctic is likely to become Ice-Free

Conclusion

Heat Waves have been recorded in the United States of America and Canada this 2021. This is only just more proof of Global Warming and its effects. This will keep increasing if the countries don’t take the agreements like the Paris agreement seriously. More importantly, the rich countries need to finally start acting responsibly and fulfil their promises to save the planet.  

References