Over the weekend, representatives from 195 countries signed an
historic agreement aimed at curbing climate change.
The "Paris Agreement," which has yet, of course, to be
ratified, is being touted as a "universal" climate
agreement, with 195 signatories.
Industry, policy-makers, ENGOs, and others will no doubt
continue to digest the Agreement, and its implications, over the
coming months (as will we!).
In the meantime, here is a brief overview of some of the key
aspects of the Agreement.
The cornerstone to the Agreement is a commitment
to maintain the rise in global temperatures
to "well below 2° C above pre-industrial
levels," while "pursu[ing]
efforts" to keep this rise checked at 1.5°
Parties to the Agreement are to undertake "ambitious
efforts" in meeting their various obligations and to
communicate what these efforts are (Article 3).
These efforts include aiming to reach global peaking of GHG
emissions "as soon as possible" (Article 4).
The Agreement has a strong focus on the principle of
"common but differentiated responsibilities"–that
is, recognizing that the needs and capacities of developing
countries differ from those of more developed ones.
For example, each Party is responsible for devising,
implementing, communicating, and publishing their respective
"nationally determined contributions." These
contributions are tailor-made to reflect each individual
country's "highest possible ambition" in light of its
own unique circumstances (Article 4).
Additionally, developed countries are to take the lead by
"undertaking economy-wide absolute emission reduction
targets," while developing countries focus on mitigation
efforts (Article 4).
Developed countries are also obliged to provide financial
resources to developing countries so as to assist the latter in
mitigation and adaptation (Article 9).
The Agreement also creates obligations regarding adaptation to
(as opposed to mitigation of) climate change, with countries being
required to engage in adaptation planning and implementation
processes (Article 7).
It also contains provisions around loss and damage associated
with climate change (Article 8), technology
development (Article 10), capacity building
(Article 11), climate change- related education, awareness,
and public participation (Article 12), and transparency (Article
On the other hand, a few elements that been hoped for in
some quarters are notably missing from the Agreement. For example,
there is no attempt to directly and meaningfully link climate
change to human rights (Parties' human and other
rights-based obligations are only vaguely mentioned in the
Preamble); the target of limiting temperature rise to
1.5° remains aspirational, not binding; and milestones
such as Parities reaching peak GHG emissions are both unbinding
(Parties are seemingly obliged only to "aim" to
reach a global peak of emissions) and lacking an enforceable
timetable ("as soon as possible").
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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