Today, November 4, 2016, The Paris Agreement will enter into force. The Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe will reportedly be floodlit green to celebrate this landmark occasion.

The New York Times article entitled, "The Paris Agreement on Climate Change is Official. Now What?" hits the nail on the head. Now that The Paris Agreement has gone into effect as of today, the question on everyone's mind is "what is next?"

As the International Energy Agency ("IEA") reports, "[t]he question now turns to implementing the terms of the agreement, helping nations meet their goals and, more critically, ratchet them further." The IEA will release its World Energy Outlook 2016 later this month, which is said to highlight pathways to reach these targets on an individual country by country basis.

By way of a refresher, lets quickly recap the takeaway points of what The Paris Agreement does. The full text of The Paris Agreement can be found here.

Takeaway points:

  • Central Aim: Strengthen global response to the threat of climate change.
  • How: By keeping global temps in check.

"Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change." The Paris Agreement, Article 2, Paragraph 1(a).

The New York Times succinctly stated: "The Paris Agreement, reached in December among 195 countries, was never imagined as the silver bullet for global warming. Rather, the goal of the agreement was to stave off the most devastating effects of climate change by limiting the increase in global temperatures to two degrees Celsius, and to just 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible."

  • Other Goals of The Paris Agreement: Strengthen the abilities of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.
  • How: Help each other out – financially and technologically. Foster adaptability and help those that are vulnerable.

Now that we have had our quick refresher, as The New York Times asks, the question on all of our minds is "now what?"

As The Paris Agreement is implemented, there will surely be challenges. Among other things, The Paris Agreement requires the parties to "put forward their best efforts" through "nationally determined contributions" ("NDCs") and to regularly report on their emissions and implementation efforts.

  • So what are NDCs exactly?  They are the key to this whole process...

Before The Paris Agreement and each country's plans were finalized, they were referred to as "intended" – Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or "INDCs." They then become finalized and are "NDCs."

NDCs are basically a country's successive implementation plan, its framework, its playbook, on how to reach its objectives under The Paris Agreement. The NDCs are the process that will be used to achieve transparency and to help countries achieve their goals.

Papua New Guinea was reportedly the first country to finalize its national climate plan under The Paris Agreement – read the full story here.

In line with the transparency goal, the NDC (interim) Registry can be found here.

In order to address the "now what" issue, Time reported today in an article entitled, " Landmark Paris Climate Agreement Takes Formal Effect. It's Not Nearly Enough," that international climate negotiators will meet next week in Marrakech, Morocco, which will "provide the first opportunity since [the 2015 climate summit] in Paris for all parties to the agreement to iron out implementation details."

Working out the actual implementation details will be the next step, now that the international framework is in effect. Stay tuned for more information!

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.