On October 13, European countries were formally bound to the Paris Climate Agreement when they submitted paperwork to the United Nations. The Paris Climate Agreement or PCA is, it is the world’s first comprehensive climate agreement.
Its aim is to reduce the world’s greenhouse gas emissions in order to slow down global warming. As described in Article two of the PCA, a main objective is “enhancing the implementation of the UNFCCC” or United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Framers of the PCA hope that by keeping global average temperature “well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels” and “limit[ing] the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels” it will reduce the risks and consequences of climate change.
When adapting to the impacts of this climate change, they hope to “foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development.” This will, of course, not affect food production, which was cited as a concern for this deal. Another objective was to ensure that finance and the economy works in conjunction with low greenhouse gas emissions and “climate-resilient development.”
Each country will set its own “Nationally Determined Contri-bution” or “NDC.” The PCA encourages these countries to be ambitious and work to battle the effects of climate change aggressively in the coming years.
Every five years, all the signatories and parties involved with the charter will have to report their contributions to UNFCCC Secretariat to ensure that countries are holding up their end of the deal.
However, there are no real consequences specified by the PCA if a country does not follow through with their NDCs. Additionally, there is nothing that outlines enforcement if a country is not setting a target in their NDC or if they are not meeting it.
The final draft of the PCA was accepted by all of the UNFCCC participants and the European Union on December 12th, 2015. U.S President Barack Obama opened the agreement to signatures on April 22, 2016 or Earth Day, a fitting move by the President.
On the spot, 175 countries signed the treaty, while almost 40 more countries issued statements expressing their intent to sign the treaty. As of October 2016, 190 states and the European Union have signed the Agreement.
81 of those parties have ratified the Agreement, including China, the United States and India, the countries with three of the largest greenhouse gas emissions in the world (about 42% together).
In this year’s election cycle, we have seen politicians talk about and provide their opinions on every topic from border control to nuclear warfare. One topic that has not been talked about enough is global warming and climate change.
These are real problems that we are faced with, not as states or countries, but as a world. The PCA is a large step in the right direction, but it is important for everyone to contribute and honor the agreements outlined in the very convention that agreed to.
We hope to see what the November 4, 2016 start date brings and how the next years will be shaped by this major agreement that deals with the major issue of climate-change.