The Paris Agreement 2°C: What You Need to Know
The Paris Agreement is an international treaty that aims to combat climate change by limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, while also striving for a limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Adopted in 2015 by the parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the agreement entered into force on November 4, 2016, and has since been ratified by 189 out of 197 parties.
The 2°C target was chosen based on scientific evidence that suggests that exceeding this threshold could lead to catastrophic consequences, such as more frequent and severe heatwaves, droughts, floods, and storms, rising sea levels, food and water shortages, and ecosystem collapse. The 1.5°C target, although more ambitious, was included to address the concerns of vulnerable countries and communities that are already experiencing the impacts of climate change.
Under the Paris Agreement, each party is required to submit a nationally determined contribution (NDC) that outlines its goals and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. These contributions are not legally binding, but they are a way for countries to show their commitment and progress towards the goals of the agreement.
The Paris Agreement also established a transparency framework that includes reporting, review, and verification of parties` progress and implementation of their NDCs. It also created a financial mechanism to support developing countries in their efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, as well as a technology transfer and capacity-building mechanism.
The Paris Agreement has faced several challenges and criticisms since its adoption. One of them is the lack of binding enforcement mechanisms, which means that parties can withdraw or ignore their commitments without facing legal consequences. The United States, which was one of the key negotiators and signatories of the agreement, withdrew from it in 2020, under the presidency of Donald Trump. The Biden administration has since rejoined the agreement, but the four years of absence and reversal of climate policies have set back the global efforts to tackle climate change.
Another challenge is the inadequate ambition and implementation of parties` NDCs, which are currently projected to lead to a global temperature rise of about 3°C by the end of the century, far beyond the Paris Agreement`s goals. The COVID-19 pandemic has also disrupted the negotiations and implementation of the agreement, as countries are focusing on their immediate health and economic recovery.
To address these challenges and increase the ambition and effectiveness of the Paris Agreement, the parties will hold the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 12, 2021. The COP26 will be a critical moment for countries to update their NDCs, adopt new policies and measures, and mobilize more financial and technical support for climate action.
In summary, the Paris Agreement 2°C is a landmark international agreement that seeks to limit global temperature rise by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting adaptation to the impacts of climate change. While it faces challenges and criticisms, it also offers a framework for cooperation and progress towards a more sustainable and resilient future. It is up to all of us to honor and strengthen this agreement, and to act on the urgency and opportunity of the climate crisis.