What do we know about the Paris Agreement? Let’s make the point together

External Relations

After four years of global negotiations, during the last two weeks of talks, climate officials from all over the world met in Paris and found an agreement on climate, a true milestone in the fight against the global warming phenomenon.

The 31-pages-text known as the “Paris Outcome” has been officially released on Saturday. Written in the same legal language that has been set up during two decades of U.N. climate talksthe pact actually identifies a roadmap in order to reduce drastically the use of fossil fuels.

From here on out, we will present the key aspects of the COP 21’s outcome, discussing changes and actions for each sector per se:

About Finance…

In 2009, developed nations have already decided to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 (from both public and private sources), in order to help developing nations reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to more frequent environmental disaster related to climate change. In particular, the agreement says governments shall set by 2025 “a new collective quantified goal from a floor of $100 billion per year, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries”.

And in the long-term…

While in 2010, the U.N. climate summit in Mexico adopted a target of retain global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, the new agreement seeks to engage to further 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. In fact, in 2011 many nations like the Marshall Islands complained about the target of 2 degrees Celsius, showing that it could have provided real hassle to them and endanger their very existence as sea levels rise; so they pushed hard for setting a goal to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

They found support from more than 100 nations, including the European Union and the United States, which formed a “high ambition coalition”.

Especially on Emissions…

Negotiators struggled with longer-term goal for halting emissions. Some of the most vulnerable nations and non-governmental organizations had campaigned for a clear, quantified goal for eliminating or reducing fossil fuels use, while, on the other hand, China and India, heavily dependent on coal, are among those reluctant to set clear dates. Saudi Arabia itself, due its strong dependence on oil, is also a clear opponent.

The European Union seems to play a controversial role. Although keen to lead on climate it had a problem with the word “decarbonization” because of Poland, whose economy depends on coal. The final text said nations must “aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country parties”. Analysts at the talks interpreted the text as implying net zero emissions.

Negotiators have built a “loss and damage mechanism” as well…

All governments set up a loss and damage mechanism in 2013, but, strictly speaking, it has so far done very little. At the end of the day, an existing international framework to deal with the unavoidable and unpredictable losses and damages caused by climate change will provide a standardized approach and a predictable system of intervention at a global level and it is now anchored in the draft final deal.

On Carbon Markets…

The text does not actually tell anything about carbon markets, nor of the possibility of carbon penalties for aviation and shipping. On the other hand it does, however, include a reference to the “use of internationally transferred mitigation outcomes,” a new system which could allow nations (on a voluntary basis) to offset their own emissions by buying credits from other nations.

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