by Rehana Dada

The Paris Agreement is an agreement under the UNFCCC that is intended to cover all parties to the convention.  It is the second such agreement, the first being the Kyoto Protocol which committed industrialised countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.  The PA commits all signatory countries, developed and developing, to address climate change through mitigation and adaptation as well as transfer of funds, technology and capacity.

The Paris Agreement (PA) was adopted at COP 21 in December 2016, in Paris. It will enter into force 30 days after it is ratified by at least 55 parties that account for a total of 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. About two thirds of parties signed the PA within a few months of its adoption, and some have completed their ratification processes. However, a number of countries need to undergo domestic integration processes before they will be able to deposit their instruments of ratification.

The PA “aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty”. It commits to: holding the increase in average global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (compared to pre-industrial levels) as well as pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius; increasing adaptive capacity and fostering climate resilient and low carbon development; and “making finance flows consistent” with efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement was established to prepare for the entry into force of the PA. Its meetings are held in conjunction with the UNFCCC subsidiary bodies, with draft decisions being prepared for recommendation to the COP.

Download the Paris Agreement.