The Paris Climate Agreement became operational from November 4, 2016. To mark the historic occasion, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris were lit up in celebration. And the celebration was indeed justified, given the fact that it has entered into into force in about one eighth of the time it took the Kyoto protocol to achieve the same milestone, as pointed out by The Guardian on the day (The Guardian, 2016).
The threshold for the Agreement to come into operation was achieved on October 5, 2016, a few days after India ratified the Paris Climate Agreement by depositing the instrument of ratification with the United Nations on October 2, 2016. A special event was organised to mark the occasion, which incidentally was also the International Day of Nonviolence. India was the 62nd country to ratify the agreement. A UN statement issued on the occasion read, “with today’s action by India, which accounts for 4.1 per cent of the emissions, the Agreement only needs slightly more than 3 percentage points to reach the 55 per cent threshold,” (The Hindu, 2016).
So far, 111 parties out of 197 have ratified the Convention. The Marrakesh proclamation on climate and sustainable development reaffirms the Paris Agreement. The 22nd Conference of Parties (COP22) held in Marrakesh from November 7 to 18 began unprepared for action owing to the Paris Climate Agreement coming into force unexpectedly soon. There was no consensus reached on adaptation action or finance. The adoption of a five year plan for loss and damage due to climate change has also been postponed to the next year. However, it should be remembered that the earlier targets of the Doha amendment to the Kyoto protocol are yet to be ratified.
The Paris Climate Agreement and what it means
The Paris Agreement is aimed at limiting global temperature rise through reduction of emissions to well below 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The Paris Climate Agreement – for the first time – brought all nations together to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. As such, it charted a new course in global climate effort.
The central aim of the Agreement is to strengthen global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the Agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. To reach these ambitious goals, appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced capacity building framework will be put in place, thus supporting action by developing countries and the most vulnerable countries, in line with their own national objectives. The Agreement also provides for enhanced transparency of action and support through a more robust transparency framework.
The Paris Climate Agreement requires all parties to put forward their best efforts through ‘nationally determined contributions’ (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead. For this purpose, all parties are to report regularly on their emissions and their implementation efforts.
In 2018, the collective efforts will be taken stock of in relation to progress towards the goal set in the Paris Agreement. There will also be a global stocktaking every 5 years to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the Agreement and to inform further individual actions by parties. Most significantly, the Paris Climate Agreement lists out work to be undertaken in the realm of sustainable development, mitigation and adaptation to climate change by countries the world over (UNFCCC, 2016).
It also provides for the establishment “of a clearing house for risk transfer that serves as a repository for information on insurance and risk transfer, in order to facilitate the efforts of parties to develop and implement comprehensive risk management strategies” to cope with climate change. Additionally, it provides for a mechanism for technology research and transfer to build up the capacity of nations in due course (UNFCCC, 2016).