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The Paris Agreement
On 12 December 2015 in Paris, the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change (COP.21) adopted the long awaited global climate agreement by decision 1/CP.21. The text of the Paris Agreement is contained in the annex to decision 1/CP.21, known also as a Decision Adopting the Paris Agreement. The report of the COP on its twenty-first session, including the Paris Agreement, is available in all six official UN languages on the website of the UNFCCC Secretariat.
The agreement „shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention, accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession”. Similar provision applied to the Kyoto Protocol. So the Agreement will become valid with a relatively low threshold of participation. However, it is expected that this agreement will have a global outreach. Out of the 196 parties to UNFCCC, 187 submitted their INDCs before the Paris COP, signaling their readiness to join the Agreement. The Paris Agreement differs from the Kyoto Protocol in that with respect to the joining threshold, it does not discriminate between developed and developing countries. Based on intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) submitted by 187 out of 196 countries - Parties to the UNFCCC. All parties to the Paris Agreement undertake to mitigate GHG emissions, with progressive ambition and a regular global stocktake every five years to check the collective progress on the pathway to achieve the global goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, making efforts to keep the rise of global temperature below 1,5 degrees Celsius (PA, Art. 2.1). In order to achieve that, all Parties should strive to formulate and communicate long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies, mindful of Article 2 taking into account their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.” (PA, Art. 4.19)
The Agreement envisages that a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of GHG will be achieved in the second half of this century, with global peaking of GHG emissions and rapid reductions thereafter (PA, Art. 4.1). In their INDCs, developed countries „should continue taking the lead by undertaking economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets”, while developing countries are „encouraged to move over time towards economy-wide emission reduction or limitation targets in the light of different national circumstances.” Actions of developing countries will continue to be conditional on support, as it is under the Convention. The Agreement envisages ratcheting up of the ambition of the INDCs every five years, in line with recommendations of the global stocktake. This will be possible with transparency as one of the building blocks of the Agreement, and with all countries accounting for their emissions.
The Paris Agreement recognizes adaptation as a global issue. Parties agreed on one global adaptation goal (PA, Art.7.1). On adaptation issues, countries agreed to strengthen cooperation, improve effectiveness and durability of action results, formally recognizing the adaptation efforts of developing countries. Countries will periodically communicate their adaptation plans. Many details of the implementation will have to be decided by countries, beginning in May 2016. The Decision Adopting the Paris Agreement includes a workplan for the period before entry into force of the Agreement.