On 21 September 2016, a special event will take place. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited leaders from all countries to the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 8:00-9:00am to attend this event and to deposit their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession to the Paris Climate Agreement on climate change. The event will provide an opportunity to countries to publicly commit to joining or ratifying the agreement before the end of 2016. It is expected that the September event will help efforts to secure early entry into force of the Paris Agreement.
Paris Climate Conference 2015
From 30 November to 11 December 2015, the governments of more than 190 nations gathered in Paris, France, and discussed a possible new global agreement on climate change, aimed at reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and thus reduce the threat of dangerous climate change. This was the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) and the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP). This global agreement is really important and necessary. Scientists have warned that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, we will pass the threshold beyond which global warming becomes catastrophic and irreversible.That threshold is estimated to be a temperature rise of 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and with our current emission trajectories we are heading towards a rise of about 5°C. That may not sound like much, but the difference between today’s temperature and the last ice age is about 5°C. It maybe seems a small change in temperature but this can mean a big difference for the Earth. Current commitments on greenhouse gas emissions will expire in 2020. At the Paris conference, governments are expected to produce a global agreement on what should be done in the decade after 2020 and beyond this timeframe.
Paris Climate Agreement 2015
On 12 December 2015, an historic agreement has been established. The Paris Agreement presents a balanced outcome with an action plan to limit global warming 'well below' 2°C.
The main elements of the Paris agreement:
1. Mitigation – reducing emissions fast enough to achieve the temperature goal. Governments agreed: a long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. They agreed to aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change; on the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries; and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science.
2. A transparency system and global stock-take – accounting for climate action. Governments agreed to: come together every 5 years to set more ambitious targets as required by science; report to each other and the public on how well they are doing to implement their targets; and to track progress towards the long-term goal through a robust transparency and accountability system.
3. Adaptation – strengthening ability of countries to deal with climate impacts. Governments agreed to: strengthen societies' ability to deal with the impacts of climate change; and to provide continued and enhanced international support for adaptation to developing countries.
4. Loss and damage – strengthening ability to recover from climate impacts. The agreement recognises the importance of averting, minimising and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change; and acknowledges the need to cooperate and enhance the understanding, action and support in different areas such as early warning systems, emergency preparedness and risk insurance.
5. Role of cities, regions and local authorities. The agreement recognises the role of non-Party stakeholders in addressing climate change, including cities, other subnational authorities, civil society, the private sector and others. They are invited to scale up their efforts and support actions to reduce emissions; to build resilience and decrease vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change; and to uphold and promote regional and international cooperation.
6. Support – including finance, for nations to build clean, resilient futures.
- The EU and other developed countries will continue to support climate action to reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change impacts in developing countries.
- Other countries are encouraged to provide or continue to provide such support voluntarily.
- Developed countries intend to continue their existing collective goal to mobilise USD 100 billion per year by 2020 and extend this until 2025. A new and higher goal will be set for after this period.
Implementation of the Paris Agreement is essential for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and provides a roadmap for climate actions that will reduce emissions and build climate resilience. In an extraordinary show of support for the Paris Climate Agreement, 175 countries signed the Paris Agreement at a ceremony in New York on 22 April 2016, far exceeding the historical record for first-day signatures to an international agreement. Signing is the first step toward joining the Agreement, and must be followed by the deposit of the instrument of ratification or acceptance. This new global agreement will enter into force after 55 countries that account for at least 55% of global emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification.
So far, 22 countries have ratified the agreement. On 3 September in Bonn, China and the United States, the world’s top two emitters of greenhouse gases, ratified the agreement. This ratification has brought the entry into force of the agreement a big step closer. But unfortunately not fast enough.
Special event on 21 September 2016
In his invitation letter to world leaders, Ban Ki-moon said, “The next step in our collective journey to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future is to ensure the rapid entry into force of the Paris Agreement. Doing so will create incentives for early implementation of nationally determined contributions and build support within markets and societies for increased climate ambition.” He added, “I urge you to accelerate your country’s domestic process for ratification of the Agreement this year.”
Patricia Espinosa, the incoming Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said: “Paris was a landmark and a milestone in our common pursuit of a safe and sustainable world. But many more milestones need to be added over the months, years and decades to come in order to implement and to realize the full potential of the Paris agreement. “Bringing the Paris Agreement into force underlines that the momentum and international solidarity witnessed in 2015 continues into 2016 among big and small nations and among rich and poorer countries,” said Ms Espinosa. “The United Nations Secretary General’s special event in New York on 21 September offers a further, focused opportunity for others to join this wave of ambition and optimism towards a better and sustainable world,” she added.
A selection of relevant publications from the Peace Palace Library collection
- Asselt, H. van, "International climate change law in a bottom-up world", Questions of International Law = Questioni di diritto internazionale, 2016, pp. 5-15.
- Atapattu, S., Human Rights Approaches to Climate Change : Challenges and Opportunities, Abingdon, Oxon, New York, NY, Routledge, 2016.
- Christiansen, S.M., Climate Conflicts - a Case of International Environmental and Humanitarian Law, Cham, Springer, 2016.(e-book)
- Dong, W., Atlas of Climate Change: Responsibility and Obligation of Human Society, Berlin, Springer, 2016.
- Gippner, O., "The 2 °C target: a European norm enters the international stage following the process to adoption in China", International Environmental Agreements : Politics, Law and Economics, 16 (2016), No. 1, pp. 49-65.
- Kheng-Lian, K., Adaptation to Climate Change : ASEAN and Comparative experiences, Singapore, World Scientific, 2016.
- Lavallée, S. and S. Maljean-Dubois, L'Accord de Paris : fin de la crise du multilate´ralisme climatique ou évolution en clair-obscur?, Revue juridique de l'environnement, 41 (2016), No. 1, pp. 19-36.
- Lemoine-Schonne, M., "La flexibilité de l'Accord de Paris sur les changements climatiques", Revue juridique de l'environnement, 41 (2016), No. 1, pp. 37-55.
- Michelot, A., "La justice climatique et l'Accord de Paris sur le climat", Revue juridique de l'environnement, 41, No. 1, pp. 71-79.
- Rajamani, L., Ambition and Differentiation in the 2015 Paris Agreement: Interpretative Possibilities and Underlying Politics, International and Comparative Law Quaterly, 65 (2016), No. 2, pp. 493-514.
- Savaresi, A., "The Paris Agreement: a New Beginning?", Journal of Energy and Natural Resources Law, 34 (2016), No. 1, pp. 16-26.
- Tabau, A., Évaluation de lAccord de Paris sur le climat à laune dune norme globale de transparence, Revue juridique de l'environnement, 41 (2016), No. 1, pp. 56-70.
- Vogler, J., Climate Change in World Politics, Houndsmill, Basingstoke, New York, NY, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.
- Voigt, C., The Paris Agreement: What is the standard of conduct for parties?, Questions of International Law = Questioni di diritto internazionale, 2016, pp. 17-28.