Background To The Paris Agreement

In 1992, President George H.W. Bush joined 107 other heads of state at the Rio Earth Summit in Brazil to adopt a series of environmental agreements, including the UNFCCC framework, which is still in force today. The international treaty aims to prevent dangerous human intervention in the planet`s climate systems in the long term. The pact does not set limits on greenhouse gas emissions from individual countries and does not contain enforcement mechanisms, but establishes a framework for international negotiations on future agreements or protocols to set binding emissions targets. Participating countries meet annually at a Conference of the Parties (COP) to assess their progress and continue discussions on how best to combat climate change. The Bali 2007 Action Plan opened discussions on a new agreement that provides for “full, effective and sustainable implementation” of the UNFCCC. The agreement is expected to be adopted at COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009. More than 100 world heads of state and government met in Copenhagen for the summit, but negotiators were unable to overcome their differences. President Barack Obama and other heads of state and government intervened to quickly draft the Copenhagen agreement, but a handful of countries opposed it to avoid it being formally adopted by the COP.

The NRDC is poised to make the Global Climate Action Summit a success by inspiring more ambitious commitments to the historic 2015 agreement and strengthening initiatives to reduce pollution. In the run-up to the Paris climate change conference, the EU presented its planned national contribution (INDC) to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The EU`s INDC expresses the EU`s commitment to the negotiation process for a new legally binding agreement on climate change to keep global warming below 2oC. It also reaffirmed the binding target of reducing domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990, as indicated by the conclusions of the European Council in October 2014. It is rare that there is a consensus among almost all nations on a single subject. But with the Paris agreement, world leaders agreed that climate change was driven by human behaviour, that it was a threat to the environment and to humanity as a whole, and that global action was needed to stop it. In addition, a clear framework has been put in place for all countries to make commitments to reduce emissions and strengthen these measures over time. Here are some of the main reasons why the agreement is so important: recognizing that many developing countries and small island developing states that have contributed the least to climate change are most likely to suffer the consequences, the Paris Agreement contains a plan for developed countries – and others that are able to do so – to continue to provide financial resources to help developing countries reduce and increase their resilience to climate change. The agreement builds on the financial commitments of the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, which aimed to increase public and private climate finance to developing countries to $100 billion per year by 2020. (To put it in perspective, in 2017 alone, global military spending amounted to about $1.7 trillion, more than a third of which came from the United States. The Copenhagen Pact also created the Green Climate Fund to mobilize transformation funding with targeted public dollars. The Paris agreement expected the world to set a higher annual target by 2025 to build on the $100 billion target by 2020 and create mechanisms to achieve this.

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