How did the Paris Agreement come about?

On 12 December 2015, the XXI Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21 of the UNFCCC, an acronym of the English United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) ended in Paris to reach the signature of an agreement aimed at regulating the post-2020 period.

This agreement, adopted with decision 1/CP21, defines as a long-term objective the containment of the increase in temperature below 2°C and the pursuit of efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial.

The EU and all its Member States have signed and ratified the Paris Agreement and are strongly determined to implement it.

In line with this commitment, EU countries have agreed to set the EU on the path to becoming the first climate-neutral economy and society by 2050.

As foreseen in the agreement, the EU presented its long-term strategy for reducing emissions and its updated climate plans before the end of 2020, committing to reduce its emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

The EU is at the forefront of the fight against climate change. Its courageous policies and actions make it a global standard-setting body and spur climate ambition around the world.

What is the Paris Agreement?

The Paris Agreement, which entered into force on 4 November 2016, presents an action plan to limit global warming.

Its main elements are five and they are:

a long-term goal – governments agreed to keep the increase in global average temperature well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C;

• contributions – before and during the Paris conference, countries presented comprehensive national climate action plans (called NDCs – Nationally Determined Contributions) to reduce their emissions;

• ambition – governments have agreed to communicate their action plans every five years, each of which sets more ambitious targets;

• transparency – countries have agreed to communicate, to each other and the public, the results achieved in the implementation of their respective objectives to ensure transparency and oversight;

• solidarity – EU Member States and other developed countries will continue to provide climate finance to developing countries to help them both reduce emissions and become more resilient to counter the effects of climate change.

Where are we after more than 6 years?

Its main elements are:

Objective 1

We are at around 1.2°C and 2022 is the 8th consecutive year (2015-2022) in which the global temperature has been more than 1°C higher than in the pre-industrial era.

Objective 2

The Minister of ecological transition reported to Parliament on the outcome of the negotiations during the hearing of 7 December 2021 at the joint committees of the Chamber (VIII Environment) and the Senate (13th Territory). 

In this hearing, the Minister recalled that COP26:

“Responded, after several years of intense debate, to the appeal of science, recognizing the value of the request for the report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental panel on climate change) to close the gap between current emissions and the reductions needed to maintain the global average temperature at 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. To this end, it has established a work program to raise mitigation ambition which will be subject to evaluation at COP 27. Specifically, it was decided to urge the countries that have not communicated them to present the Nationally Determined Contributions with a time horizon to 2030 together with long-term strategies before COP27 and it was decided to ask all countries to Strengthen NDCs to 2030 as a necessary step to align with the Paris Agreement temperature goal by the end of 2022.” 

The 40% greenhouse gas reduction target at the European level compared to 1990, set by the 2030 Climate-Energy Framework, was subsequently revised upwards and, as stated in the press release of 18 December 2020, on that date The EU submitted its NDC to the UNFCCC, which contains the updated and strengthened target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

Objective 3

Because of COP26 in Glasgow, the European Council calls for an ambitious global response to climate change.

Leaders recalled the commitment of the EU and its member states to continue increasing their climate finance and urged other developed countries to urgently increase their contribution to the collective €100 billion climate finance target of USD per year through 2025.

Objective 4

Among the main results of COP 26:

• the commitment made by developed countries to step up climate finance and reach the goal of USD 100 billion in the coming years;

• the adoption of a global commitment to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030;

• the adoption of a declaration on forests and land use;

• the development of the Paris Code on the operational aspects of the Paris Agreement.

Objective 5

At COP27, a loss and damage fund signed by all rich countries to compensate the developing countries, most vulnerable to extreme weather events, for the issues caused by the climate.

A goal achieved after thirty years of discussions.

Paris Agreement and COP27: half a victory

As we know, COP27 in Sharm el Sheikh ends with half a victory.

The only success was the green light for a Loss and damage fund, but a few hours before the end of the Sharm el Sheikh conference, there were still many knots to untie.

At the top of the list, there are the necessary measures to be taken to reduce greenhouse emissions to curb global warning.

Many countries have asked that the goal of 1.5 degrees of warming is maintained and that the gradual reduction of all fossil fuels is explicitly mentioned by setting the peak of emissions at 2025, a point opposed by many neighboring countries with oil interests, starting with Saudi Arabia.

In the final text of the “cover decision”, the document that summarizes the political decisions, there is no commitment to a safe and socially sustainable exit from fossil fuels.

Frans Timmermans, head of the EU delegation, said:

“We are proud to have helped solve the Loss and damage problem, but on emissions reductions, we have lost an opportunity and a lot of time here, compared to the COP26 in Glasgow. Starting tomorrow, we will get to work to remedy the COP28 in Dubai. The solution is not to finance a fund to repair the damage, but to invest our resources to drastically reduce the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere”.

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, concluded by saying:

“Our planet is still in the emergency room. We need to drastically reduce emissions now, and this is an issue COP27 has not addressed. To have any hope of maintaining 1.5°, we need to invest heavily in renewable energy and end our dependence on fossil fuels.”

What happens next?

In short, COP27 ends with many tasks and little time. Will COP28 in Dubai have a different outcome?

Will we be able to achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement?

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