The Paris Agreement is an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with the aim of reducing or slowing global warming. The agreement emerged at the 21st Conference of the Parties to UNFCCC, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in 2011.
It was approved in 2015, and entered into the UN signature period in 2016. After reaching the minimum number of signatories, it entered into force in November 2016.
Purpose of the Paris Agreement
The general objective of the Paris Agreement is to keep the average global temperature rise below 2ºC; and, if possible, below 1.5ºC. This control can significantly limit the impacts and risks associated with global warming.
In addition, another important objective is to work on adapting to the inevitable “side effects” of climate change caused by warming. In particular, there is a concern to ensure that food production is not threatened.
In addition, the Paris Agreement also aims to promote the creation of consistent financial flows. These flows will be aimed at promoting the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Most important points of the Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement has several important points. Let’s highlight the main ones.
First, it forces the signatory countries to personally set their targets for the emission of greenhouse gases. These targets should take into account the country’s ability to limit emissions, but everyone is encouraged to adopt ambitious figures.
In addition, the goals must be redefined at least every five years, becoming increasingly strict. And countries are required to record their emissions, to assess whether they are reaching the proposed numbers.
Second, it authorizes signatory countries to account for emission reductions that happen outside their territory. However, this can only be done when these reductions are derived from emissions trading duly provided for in the Kyoto Protocol.
Thirdly, it requires the signatory countries’ commitment to sharing knowledge, technologies and good practices. This is especially important for emerging countries, which, as the Paris Agreement itself recognizes, will have a harder time achieving overall objectives.
Implementation of the Paris Agreement
The implementation of the agreement proves to be a real challenge. Conferences have been held to establish more clearly the participation of each signatory country and the means available for support and financing.
However, the conditions of each participant are very diverse and negotiations often generate controversy. For example, in many countries, the economy depends primarily on activities that involve the use of oil and coal as energy. For these countries, reducing gas emissions is not only difficult to implement, it can also cause major economic problems.
Situation of some countries in the Paris Agreement
Some countries have not yet ratified the Paris Agreement; this is the case with Russia, Iran and Iraq. Meanwhile, the U.S., which was initially a signatory, announced in June 2017 that it would no longer participate.
According to Article 28 of the Paris Agreement, the US would indeed have until November 2020 to opt out. However, until this measure is made official, they remain obliged to report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The announcement of the intention to leave the USA was well received by members of the American Republican Party, but criticized by governments of other countries and international organizations. It is worth remembering that the country is considered one of the largest GHG emitters; and, to make the situation more complicated, its emissions grew by 3.8% in 2018.
In Brazil, there were also allusions to a possible exit from the agreement. The current president, Jair Bolsonaro, expressed intentions in this regard during his presidential campaign. However, after being elected, this proposal was abandoned.