The Paris Climate Agreement is an international commitment to fight climate change and reduce greenhouse gases that cause global warming. On Earth Day, April 22, 2016, 175 countries signed on to the agreement, with several more expected to ratify it in the next few weeks.
Unanimously adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement is a legally binding document that ensures all countries take part in a collective effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change. With the goal of holding global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius – or even 1.5 degrees – the agreement also includes initiatives designed to increase countries’ contributions every five years, starting in 2020.
While the Paris Agreement was approved by over 100 countries on Earth Day, it will not take effect until 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions formally ratify it. The first step for this international commitment is getting enough signatures.
- What does the Paris Climate Agreement mean?
- Which countries have not signed the Agreement?
- What are the benefits of the Paris Climate Agreement?
- What is next for the Paris Climate Agreement?
- What are the challenges of the Paris Climate Agreement?
- Which countries are the biggest polluters?
- What is the Paris climate accord?
- How do countries measure up in terms of being green?
- Why is China the number one greenhouse gas emitter?
- Why does a new deal matter?
- What is the 1.5 degree goal?
- What is the Green Climate Fund?
- What is the purpose of COP26?
- What is clean coal?
- What is methane?
- What does the Paris Agreement and COP 26 have to do with each other?
What does the Paris Climate Agreement mean?
Many people are wondering what the Paris Climate Agreement is and what does it mean. It’s a method for countries to agree on their respective plans for reducing carbon emissions. The agreement took effect in November 2016, with the goal of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels through to 2100. To prevent this from happening, each country must submit its plan by 2020 that includes targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emission as well as updates on how they will reach those goals every five years thereafter until 2035 at least. These pledges are called “nationally determined contributions.” Countries also agreed to meet regularly starting in 2018 to review progress towards meeting these goals and make adjustments where necessary. All 195 members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the European Union (EU) submitted their pledges ahead of December 2015’s global climate meeting in Paris.
No countries have withdrawn from the agreement since its inception, but President Donald Trump said he would pull out of it when he took office in January 2017. Several news outlets reported that during a televised announcement on June 1, 2017, Trump was prepared to pull the U.S. out of the accord, but after hours of discussions with his team, he decided to keep it. On July 1st 2017 however the United States War Department announced that they would be pulling out of the Paris Accord due to military threats made by several other countries; namely Russia and China.
Which countries have not signed the Agreement?
When considering the Paris Climate Agreement, it is important to note the impact of not signing on. Without this agreement, our world will continue to experience rising global temperatures that contribute to the melting of glaciers and polar ice caps which cause sea levels to rise; more droughts that lead to crop failures; extreme weather events like hurricanes and tornadoes; and more widespread disruptions of plant and animal habitats.
Economies across the world would also sustain serious damage due to both natural disasters and climate change-related effects, which would negatively impact jobs, security, healthcare systems, retirement savings, insurance costs, energy investments and financial stability. The global economy could lose up to $12 trillion by the turn of the century without a strong climate agreement, according to a global report called “Risky Business.” The U.S. alone could lose up to $3.5 trillion from its economy as a result of inaction on global warming.
According to some reports, if the world doesn’t take immediate action against climate change, then by 2100, 8 percent of the Earth’s land mass will be lost to rising sea levels, while some small island nations may even be completely submerged. Moreover, over 100 million people will become displaced due to shrinking coastlines and increased flooding in many parts of the world.
This is why the Paris Climate Agreement has been called “historic,” “ambitious” and “necessary.”
The following is a list of countries and their current status in terms of the Paris Climate Agreement:
· Africa – African Union members signed, but no national pledges to reduce emissions.
· Asia – In addition to China and India, other Asian countries such as Japan, Singapore and Malaysia have all ratified the agreement.
· Caribbean – All member countries have signed, including Barbados, Saint Lucia and others.
· Europe – European Union members made individual pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a domestic level prior to ratifying the agreement.
· North America – Countries in NATO are also expected to make a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
· Oceana – American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Fiji are expected to sign on.
· South America – Argentina is the only country so far to have ratified the agreement in South America. However, several other countries have expressed an interest, including Brazil.
· Developing Countries – African Union members are expected to pledge based on “common but differentiated responsibilities.”
What are the benefits of the Paris Climate Agreement?
It is no secret that the effects of climate change are already having devastating impacts around the world. These effects will only get worse if we don’t do anything about it today. That’s why signing onto this agreement provides both moral and economic benefits.
On a moral level, citing “common but differentiated responsibilities,” the Paris Climate Agreement demands that countries on the front lines of climate change be given priority in terms of global efforts. They understand that it is more important for them to achieve economic growth first before being forced into making serious changes to their own energy capabilities.
On an economic level, these countries are also demanding cooperation from the larger developed economies on issues such as climate finance and technology transfer so that they too can achieve sustainable development along with the rest of the world.
The Paris Climate Agreement also has several economic incentives that will work to keep global warming below 2 C in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change, which include:
· A commitment from rich countries to mobilize at least $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries.
· A collective commitment to double investments in climate-resilient infrastructure for developing countries by 2020, with funding provided both public and private sources.
· Technology transfer is also guaranteed through access to clean technology under fair, equitable and appropriate terms.
These financial incentives are not expected to be legally binding, but they will serve as a powerful tool in the fight against climate change while also protecting the most vulnerable populations who are already suffering.
What is next for the Paris Climate Agreement?
Now that enough countries have ratified and signed on to the agreement, it will come into force 30 days after at least 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of greenhouse gas emissions have all formally joined.
On a local level, the agreement will allow each country to develop their own strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through a transparent and legally binding process. Countries who ratify this agreement are expected to keep in touch with one another about their individual progress reports in order to track both global and domestic progress.
What are the challenges of the Paris Climate Agreement?
According to Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, “there is one fundamental truth about climate change. It requires a global response – and we can deliver.”
Despite this encouraging message, some countries still feel left out and even threatened by this agreement. The country’s who did not ratify are accusing others of being more proactive than they are, which could create tension between the larger world powers.
With or without them, however, is largely irrelevant as long as this agreement is legally binding and does not allow countries to fall through the cracks. Although it is important for all countries to come together in order to fight climate change, it is not worth sacrificing the rest of the world in order to save one nation.
The Paris Climate Agreement is looking like an incredible step forward for people all over the world, but it will not be without its challenges. The larger countries need to keep working together and hold up their end of the deal by adhering to the agreed upon standards while finding ways to incentivize those who have yet to join.
In order for this agreement to work, it will need all of the stakeholders involved and working toward a common goal without sacrificing one another in the process. The Paris Climate Agreement is an amazing step forward in fighting climate change, but there is still much work to be done if we want future generations to live in a world free of the most dangerous effects of global warming.
Which countries are the biggest polluters?
According to environment 360, “the U.S. and China – the world’s first and second largest emitters of greenhouse gases – ratified the agreement on September 3.”
India comes in third place as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, but it has yet to ratify this agreement on an official level as of the writing of this post. The European Union as a whole comes in fourth place as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, but there are specific countries within the E.U. that contribute more than others to this statistic.
Spain comes in first place as a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, followed by Germany and Great Britain as a close second. France rounds out the top five for this particular statistic, but the U.S., China and India still remain as the top three emitters of greenhouse gases by a wide margin.
What is the Paris climate accord?
According to NPR, “the agreement will lay out a long-term goal for net zero global emissions later this century and break down what each country needs to do to get there.”
Although this agreement does not have any official enforcement measures, it is still a huge step forward for the world as a whole. It will require each participating country to show transparency by submitting their own progress reports on what they are doing to reduce emissions domestically.
How do countries measure up in terms of being green?
According to BBC news, “an analysis by the think tank Climate Action Tracker, which analyses countries’ emissions promises and their climate change impact, finds Japan is set to achieve just 1.6% of its 2030 target. Canada’s emissions are currently 14% above its 2020 target.”
The U.S., China and India have been making great strides toward mitigating their individual contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions, but other countries around the world are lagging behind.
Why is China the number one greenhouse gas emitter?
According to The New York Times, “China, which accounts for almost 30 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, has pledged that its emissions will peak around 2030.” The country has also agreed to increase the amount of non-fossil fuel energy in China from the current 10% to 20% by 2030.
Why does a new deal matter?
According to The Economist, “by setting targets for all countries starting in 2020, the Paris agreement will give businesses and investors a clearer signal of which countries are doing their bit to limit climate change.”
This is a major step forward for the future of our planet. If we are going to have any chance at mitigating the impact of global warming, every single country needs to be on board with taking serious steps toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions domestically.
What is the 1.5 degree goal?
According to The Atlantic, “the global temperature target of 2 degrees Celsius was chosen because it falls in the middle of the most significant emission scenarios.”
The Paris Climate Agreement aims to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial times. This will be a huge challenge, but many scientists agree that we need to find a way to achieve this goal.
What is the Green Climate Fund?
The GCF was established in 2010 as a means of supporting developing countries achieve their mitigation and adaptation goals via climate-friendly investments from different development banks from around the world. Basically, it’s a global fund with the purpose of helping the most vulnerable countries fight against the effects of global warming.
Germany is far from being the biggest generator of greenhouses gases, but they have been a pillar of support for the Green Climate Fund by providing $1 billion to this fund.
Although some people might disagree with Germany’s decision to help fund this initiative since they did not contribute as much as China, India and the U.S., Germany has long been a champion for sustainable development among nations.
What is the purpose of COP26?
COP26 brings together political leaders, energy ministers and civil society groups to find ways to implement the Paris Climate Agreement. This includes stepping up efforts toward achieving their greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets by as well as setting the framework for further action after that deadline.
This action is happening during a critical moment in which many countries around the world are still questioning whether or not to commit to taking action against climate change, which would make the Paris Climate Agreement even more significant.
What is clean coal?
According to The New York Times, “despite the fact that coal contributes almost 40 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions (second only to oil), there has been an increasing interest in cleaner ways of consuming the fuel.”
Clean coal is a term used to describe technologies that reduce air pollution from existing power plants. It’s important to note, however, that this doesn’t include carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, which has yet to be done on an industrial scale.
The term “clean coal” doesn’t mean we’re off the hook for reducing coal use. It is a step forward in the right direction, but it doesn’t get us off the hook from reducing our greenhouse gas emissions any time soon.
What is methane?
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that’s considered to be 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. It occurs naturally and can leak during the production and transportation of natural gas.
The U.S. has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 12% since 2005, largely due to cleaner burning natural gas produced here at home. Methane can be captured and turned into energy that heats homes, powers vehicles and generates electricity.
It is important that we continue reducing methane emissions if we want to meet our goal of fighting global warming.
What does the Paris Agreement and COP 26 have to do with each other?
The Paris Agreement is a landmark deal signed in 2015 by 195 nations around the world. All participating countries set their own greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets to achieve an overall goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
At COP 26, participants were expected to discuss how these individual country’s commitments would be strengthened and enforced after 2020 since this is the year all countries are expected to take further steps.
As with any agreement, it takes time for countries to put their commitments into action. COP 26 will be seen as an important milestone in determining what the next steps are that need to be taken by 2020. It has become crystal clear that international cooperation is crucial if we want to meet this goal.
It is widely believed that if we want to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, we need to be off fossil fuels by 2050 at the latest and use clean energy sources like wind and solar to power our communities and vehicles instead.
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Research & Curation
Dean Emerick is a curator on sustainability issues with ESG The Report, an online resource for professionals focusing on ESG principles. Their primary goal is to provide resources to help middle market companies, SMEs and SMBs transition to a more sustainable future.