Dec 18

The Paris Agreement 2020

The last scheduled meeting of the parties – COP26 – was due to take place in November 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. It was postponed for 12 months due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Zero net emissions are fast becoming the slogan of 2020, with China, Japan and South Korea joining the EU and the UK in setting CO2 emission neutral targets. The Paris Agreement has an ”upward” structure unlike most international environmental treaties, which are ”top down”, characterized by internationally defined standards and objectives that states must implement. [32] Unlike its predecessor, the Kyoto Protocol, which sets legal commitment targets, the Paris Agreement, which focuses on consensual training, allows for voluntary and national objectives. [33] Specific climate targets are therefore politically promoted and not legally binding. Only the processes governing reporting and revision of these objectives are imposed by international law. This structure is particularly noteworthy for the United States – in the absence of legal mitigation or funding objectives, the agreement is seen as an ”executive agreement, not a treaty.” Since the 1992 UNFCCC treaty was approved by the Senate, this new agreement does not require further legislation from Congress for it to enter into force. [33] The 2020 Climate Ambition Summit will mark the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement and provide heads of state and government with a platform to demonstrate their commitment to the Paris Agreement and the multilateral process. Niklas Hohne of the NewClimate Institute, one of the partner organizations behind Climate Action Tracker, said: ”Five years later, it is clear that the Paris Agreement is advancing the fight against climate change. We are now seeing a wave of countries registering [to achieve zero emissions]. Can anyone really afford to miss this wave? If all these countries achieve their goals, the world is almost on track to reach the ceiling of the Paris Agreement. Climate Action Tracker, which analyzes carbon data, calculated that current commitments would result in a temperature increase of 2.1 degrees Celsius, leading the world to deliver on its 2015 promise in ”striking distance.” In the end, all parties recognized the need to ”prevent, minimize and address losses and damages,” but in particular any mention of compensation or liability is excluded.

[11] The Convention also takes up the Warsaw International Loss and Damage Mechanism, an institution that will attempt to answer questions about how to classify, address and co-responsible losses. [56] The climate movement had many worrying headwinds at that time. President Donald Trump officially withdrew the United States from the Paris climate accord in November 2020 – the only country to do so – while President-elect Joe Biden promised to reinstate the first day of his term in January 2021. Ban Ki-moon, former UN secretary-general, told the Guardian: ”We have wasted a lot of time. Five years after the adoption of the agreement in Paris with a lot of expectations and commitment on the part of the world`s heads of state and government, we have not done enough. Extending short-term commitments in the Paris Agreement will be crucial. In addition to the global and legally binding limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius or 2 degrees Celsius, the Paris governments have presented non-binding national plans to reduce their emissions or control the expected increase in emissions for small developing countries. However, the first round of these national plans – so-called national contributions – in 2015 was insufficient and would lead to catastrophic warming of 3oC. While the agreement has been welcomed by many, including French President Francois Hollande and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,[67] criticism has also emerged.

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