On 12 December 2015, The United Nations Conference on
Climate Change in Paris concluded with the release of the
'Paris Agreement' ('Agreement').
The Agreement is scheduled to be signed in New York on 22 April
2016 and will commence operation in 2020.
Signatories will commit to:
Holding the increase in the global average temperature to
'well-below' 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue
efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above
Establishing and communicating progressive (i.e. improved)
nationally determined contribution targets every five years (with
provision to adjust its contribution at any time).
Enhancing support to developing countries towards the
implementation of economy wide-absolute emission reduction
Conserving and enhancing sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse
gases in order to reach global peaking 'as soon as
For developed country parties, providing financial resources to
assist developing country parties with implementing their
obligations under the Agreement.
Holding the first global 'stocktake' of the Agreement
in 2023 and every subsequent five years. This will involve a formal
review of countries' progress in meeting their commitments
under the Agreement, including updates on the achievement of
Operating within a 'Transparency Framework.' Under this
framework, signatories must disclose information regarding
greenhouse gas emissions;
implementation and achievement of nationally determined
financial assistance to developing countries,
via national communications, biennal reports and update reports,
international assessment and consultation.
This information will be used for tracking purposes,
determination of priorities and as part of the global
Implementation of the Agreement and promotion of compliance with
its provisions will be undertaken by a non-adversarial and
non-punitive committee which will report annually to the Agreement
The non-binding decision, which prefaces the Agreement, urges
parties to adopt the Agreement and to:
Communicate by 2020, mid-century, long-term low greenhouse gas
emission strategies to the Secretariat; and
For developed countries, seek to achieve the goal of jointly
providing USD 100 billion annually in climate aid support to
developing countries by 2020.
WHAT DOES THE AGREEMENT MEAN FOR AUSTRALIA?
As one of the world's highest per capita emitters, Australia
will need to adopt tighter national emission targets and clarify
its domestic carbon policy. This pressure will likely be reignited
by the regular 'stocktakes' mandated by the Agreement and
the requirement for information sharing and disclosure within a
There will also be increasing pressure on business from
government, lenders and investors to transparently measure carbon
emissions and implement appropriate abatement strategies. Key to
Australia's contribution to global carbon reduction will be an
early and clear policy statement from the Federal Government
together with implementation strategies which provide certainty and
support to affected businesses.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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