COP21: The Paris Agreement in 4 key points

“The draft agreement is differentiated, fair, sustainable, dynamic, balanced and legally binding.” Laurent Fabius, President of COP21

Fair and differentiated

In response to the climate challenge, the agreement recognises that States have common but differentiated responsibilities, depending on respective capabilities and different national circumstances.

It takes into account the level of development and the specific needs of particularly vulnerable countries, for example. Beyond making financial commitments, industrialized countries will need to facilitate technology transfers, and more generally, adaptation to a low-carbon economy.

In terms of transparency, a system for tracking national commitments, which is slightly flexible for developing countries, has also been set up to keep track of everyone’s efforts.

Sustainable and dynamic

The purpose of the agreement is to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to ensure that efforts are pursued to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.

To achieve this, it stipulates that all countries shall review their contributions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions every five years. Every new nationally determined contribution will need to be more ambitious than the last.

The Parties committed to reaching a global peak in greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, in order to achieve a balance between emissions and their removal in the second half of the century. The States are also required to increase their efforts to mitigate and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The Paris Agreement also recognizes the potential for action by non-State actors, including businesses, communities and associations. Their participation revolves around various initiatives of the Action Agenda, one of the pillars of the Paris Agreement. The commitments of non-State actors allow us to make the paradigm shift that is the Paris Agreement - the transition to a low-carbon economy - a reality starting now. These voluntary actions by members of civil society are not a substitute for action by the States, but they help to accelerate and deepen such actions. Today, the Agenda for Action brings together more than 70 initiatives, involving 10,000 actors in 180 countries.

Universal and legally binding

The 195 States Parties involved in the negotiations committed to drawing up long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies. This is the first time that a universal agreement has been reached in the fight against climate change.

Certain legally binding rules will apply to the States Parties, such as the obligation for developed countries to provide developing countries with financial support to enable them to implement the agreement.

What’s next?

The agreement will be opened for signature by the States on 22 April 2016 and should enter into force in 2020.

At COP 21, the States also adopted a decision which set several steps to accompany and prepare the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Between now and the COP24, which will take place in Poland at the end of 2018, States will have to develop and adopt a set of rules and mechanisms for the implementation of the agreement. This work started well at COP22, which took place in Marrakech in November 2016, and the initial results of these negotiations are positive. In 2018, States will also hold a Facilitative Dialogue to review global efforts, identify opportunities for action and to raise the climate ambition, which is necessary to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.

Updated: July 2017

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