In December 2015 at COP 21 in Paris, the nations of the world came together with the hopes of forging an agreement to take action on climate change. On the final day of the conference, they formally adopted the landmark Paris Agreement.
Since then, 191 nations have become signatories to the Paris Agreement. It will go into force 30 days after its ratification by at least 55 nations accounting for at least 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions. As of October 5, 2016, 74 nations had ratified the Paris Agreement, accounting for 58.82% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This means that it will enter into force on November 4, 2016!
The Paris Agreement is different from the Kyoto Protocol in many ways, but two important differences stand out to me. The first is that it includes developing countries—most notably, China and India—who were not required to reduce emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. It also includes the United States who never even ratified the Kyoto Protocol in the first place. The second major difference is that it is not an internationally binding treaty like the Kyoto Protocol, but rather an agreement by member states to put forth their own Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to fight climate change.
Some key features of the Paris Agreement are:
Two criticisms of the Paris agreement are:
The best analogy I’ve read about the Paris Agreement is that it is like a potluck dinner in which everyone brings what they can to the table. Those who bring a lot are praised and those who bring nothing are shamed. The Paris Agreement is not perfect, but it represents the best chance we’ve got to prevent dangerous warming of our planet. Now it’s time for us to hold our elected officials accountable to their promises and demand action.
The Paris Agreement. http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php (Accessed Oct 6, 2016)