The Paris agreement and its failures and success

Through this assignment I will be looking at the Paris Agreement and some of the reasons why it is said that its a failure and reasons why it is still considered relevant.  

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change is a legally binding international agreement on the subject of climate change. It was accepted by 196 Parties at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 21) in Paris on December 12, 2015, and went into effect on November 4, 2016. (The Paris Agreement, 2016) Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. Countries aspire to accomplish global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as feasible to produce a climate neutral world by mid-century in order to meet this long-term temperature objective. The Paris Pact is a watershed moment in the international climate change process because it is the first time that a legally binding agreement binds all nations together in a common cause to fight climate change and adapt to its repercussions.

 The Paris Agreement’s implementation necessitates economic and societal transformations based on the greatest available knowledge. The Paris Agreement is based on a five-year cycle of countries taking progressively aggressive climate action. Countries must submit their climate action plans, known as nationally defined contributions, by 2020. Countries outline steps they will take to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in their NDCs in order to meet the Paris Agreement’s targets. Countries also detail the steps they will take to improve resilience and adapt to the effects of rising temperatures in their NDCs. In the long run the Paris Agreement calls for nations to draught and submit long-term low-carbon development plans by 2020 in order to effectively define their efforts toward the long-term goal (LT-LEDS). NDCs benefit from the long-term view provided by LT-LEDS. (Blog, 2021)They are not required, unlike NDCs. Nonetheless, they situate the NDCs within nations’ long-term planning and development agendas, offering a vision and direction for future growth. (Widerberg, 2020)

On November 4 2016 US under the leadership of President Donald Trump formally left the Paris Agreement which in a way derailed the agreement. The Obama administration was responsible for supporting the Green Climate Fund with $3 billion dollars, which will no longer be accessible for climate change research. As a result, a reduction in US funding reduced the likelihood of meeting the Paris Agreement’s targets. Furthermore, the United States was responsible for more than half of all climate change paper references in 2015, thus any reduction in funding will have an impact on the United States’ contribution to future IPCC reports. Trump’s decision to cut money to the Green Climate Fund had ramifications for developing countries who relied on it for climate change programmes. With Donal Trump’s decision of backing out of the Paris Agreement US could now back out of its NDC commitments and could increase its emission by 14%, 28%, and 54% which led to a decrease in the carbon price in US but an increased in carbon price worldwide. While some tremors were felt in the automobile and aviation industry worldwide the move of US leaving the Paris agreement had only effect on the Agreement’s achievement timeline. While some argue that US withdrawal from the treaty had an affect there is another section which does not agree to this.

Within 100 days of leaving the treaty the US along with the world saw wind powers best quarter in 8 years, and within 2015 the goal generation of electricity from renewable sources of energy was greater than that of coal or oil. With the corporate sector also aboard the mission to help prevent climate change multinationals like APPLE, Dupont, General Motors and many notable chemical companies pledging that all of the electricity that they would consume would be renewable by 2050 the US walkout of the treaty does not seem to affect them as they tend to backout from their commitments. With many US cities also criticizing the action of President Trump and deciding that they would continue to imply with the Paris Treaty commitments and going ahead with rather storing and converting CO2 into usable products the response of US has been completely opposite to what Trump had believed it to be.

With US backing out of the deal did set up a platform for EU and China to take the role of US in the deal. China, the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases, has launched a daring plan to make its economy carbon neutral by 2060, combining renewable energy, nuclear power, and carbon capture. Similarly, the EU’s Green Deal, which was initially presented in December 2019, lays out a plan for the bloc to become carbon neutral by 2050. The EU has already decreased its greenhouse-gas emissions by 24% compared to 1990 levels. Legislation aimed at achieving carbon neutrality by the middle of the century is now being debated. With countries like Japan, South Korea and India also pitching in the walkout of US has been contained in some way. With the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown being imposed worldwide there has been a pause in the global emission but with the gradual opening of the world economies things are returning back to normal.

With the win of Joe Biden in the US Presidential elections of 2020 and with climate change being one of the biggest selling points in Bidens bid to become the President, US re-entered the Paris Agreement on 19 February 2021 while this move has been applauded by the world as once again the climate funding and technological help will be available to the underdeveloped and developing countries this also is a new dawn for US itself. After the devastating California wildfires and the fast melting of the polar ice caps the world looks at the Paris agreement with hope for a better tomorrow. The Paris Agreement is a comprehensive agreement which not only helps tackle the climate change by forcing it upon the countries rather it gives the countries the option to choose their own goals and time to comply to it.  

Naman Anand
Naman Anand
Naman is an alumnus of Motilal Nehru College, University of Delhi. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Diplomacy, Law and Business from O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat.