The Paris Agreement
On December 12, 2015, Canada and 194 other countries reached the Paris Agreement, an ambitious and balanced agreement to fight climate change. This new Agreement will strengthen the effort to limit the global average temperature rise to well below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C.
The Paris Agreement and accompanying decisions recognize the essential roles of subnational governments, cities, civil society, the private sector and financial institutions in responding to climate change, and affirm the importance of engagement with all levels of government. The Agreement also identifies the need to respect, promote and consider the rights of Indigenous peoples, local communities, human rights and gender equality when taking climate action. The Agreement also includes language describing the need for a just transition of the workforce to a lower-carbon economy, the creation of decent work and quality jobs, and education, public participation and public access to information.
The following summary provides further details on long-term goals, provisions for mitigation and adaptation, cooperative approaches, finance, transparency, stock-taking, pre-2020 ambition, signing and coming into force criteria.
In addition to the 2°C temperature goal and efforts to limit the rise to 1.5°C, the Paris Agreement also aims to foster climate resilience and lower greenhouse gas development, as well as to make climate flows consistent with a pathway toward a lower carbon future. As required under Article 4(19) of the Paris Agreement, Canada submitted its long-term low greenhouse gas development strategy to the UNFCCC on November 19, 2016 at COP 22. This mid-century climate change strategy looks beyond 2030 to start a conversation on the ways we can reduce emissions for a cleaner, more sustainable future by 2050.
Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have been invited to submit their first nationally determined contribution no later than when they submit their instruments of ratification, accession or approval of the Paris Agreement.
At present, Parties have set targets for 2025 or 2030, and the Agreement has provisions to institute common time frames. By 2020, Parties with a 2025 target are invited to communicate a 2030 target. Parties with a 2030 target are invited to re-communicate or update that target. Thereafter, contributions would be updated with increased ambition every five years. Contributions are to be recorded in an online registry.
In 2018, Parties will participate in a facilitative dialogue to take stock of their collective efforts in relation to progress toward the long-term goal and to inform the preparation of new or updated nationally determined contributions.
Adapting to current and future climate change impacts is recognized as a local, subnational, regional, international and global challenge. The Paris Agreement establishes a global goal of enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change with a view to contributing to sustainable development and ensuring an adequate adaptation response in the context of the temperature goal. Parties are invited to prepare and communicate adaptation plans and priorities to be recorded in a public registry. The Agreement also recognizes the need to enhance cooperation to address loss and damage associated with the adverse impacts of climate change through the strengthening of the existing Warsaw International Mechanism.
The Paris Agreement acknowledges that Parties may use internationally transferred mitigation outcomes in implementing their nationally determined contributions so long as Parties report transparently and apply robust accounting rules, notably to avoid double counting. The Agreement also establishes a new, centrally administered mechanism to be built on the experience and lessons learned from existing mechanisms and approaches under the UNFCCC.
Developed countries continue to have an obligation to provide financial resources to assist developing countries, and other Parties are encouraged to provide support on a voluntary basis.
Parties agreed that scaled-up financing should aim to achieve a balance between mitigation and adaptation and that financing will continue to flow from a variety of sources. Developed countries will continue to take the lead in mobilizing climate finance, and Parties will set a new long-term finance goal by 2025 from the floor of US$ 100 billion per year, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries.
In order to build mutual trust and confidence and to promote effective implementation, the Paris Agreement establishes an enhanced transparency framework. All Parties will be required to provide information related to greenhouse gas emissions, progress toward their emissions targets, adaptation efforts, and the provision and receipt of finance. The Agreement takes into account the varying levels of Parties’ reporting capacities by providing some flexibility on how climate action is reported. Notably, the information reported will undergo a technical expert review and be considered by other Parties through a multilateral process.
To promote rising ambition, a global “stock take” will take place every five years starting in 2023 to assess the collective progress in implementing the provisions of the Agreement and in meeting the long-term goal. The “stock take” will consider mitigation and adaptation actions undertaken by all countries, and the adequacy of financial, technical and capacity-building support. The results of the “stock take” will inform Parties in updating their nationally determined contributions.
Enhancing pre-2020 ambition
Opportunities will continue to exist in the pre-2020 period for all levels of government, the private sector, financial institutions and civil society to showcase efforts to address and respond to climate change. Building on the Lima–Paris Action Agenda, there will be a high-level event in conjunction with each session of the Conference of the Parties (COP). Two high-level champions will be appointed to facilitate and strengthen high-level engagement on the behalf of the president of the COP during that period.
Entry into force
Canada ratified the Paris Agreement on October 5th, 2016, following a vote in Parliament. The Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4th, 2016.
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