COP21, Paris, 2015: climate actions leading to a new agreement?

You may like to read Maria’s blog A pivotal year for creating a resilient society about how three international agreements signed this year could help us create a society that’s more resilient to environmental, economic and social changes.

International climate policy is being discussed now at the meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris. The meeting runs from 30 November to 11 December 2015 and aims to have in place a new agreement to cut down greenhouse emissions ready by 2015, with the agreement coming into effect by 2020.

What are the key actions that each country intends to take?

To prepare for the new international agreement that countries have committed to create by the end of COP21, they agreed to disclose publically what climate actions they intend to take post-2020. This is known as the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). The INDCs largely determine whether the world achieves an ambitious 2015 agreement aiming to put the world on a path towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.

By 1 October 2015, 146 countries had submitted contributions to a global climate deal. This was the deadline that the UN set for the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions to be included in its synthesis document.

The projected warming of these pledges, if fully implemented, leads to around 2.7°C by 2100, which is above the 2°C target. These national contributions seem to be insufficient to limit warming below 2°C.

You can track these contributions on the CAIT Paris Contributions Map.

What are the key issues of a new agreement?

A draft climate change agreement was published by the United Nations in October 2015 and gives some pointers of the key issues that are being addressed:

• Cycle of improvement – To maintain momentum after COP21, a process to review and ramp up mitigation action every five years is included. But there are still questions such as when would the process begin? How to enhance mitigation, adaptation and finance?

• Long-term goal – To include a specific goal to set a clear long-term trajectory for emissions.

• Transparency and accountability – To converge on a common approach to measures and report countries’ emissions in a transparent way.

• Finance – To enable a transformation to low-emissions and climate-resilient economies and societies.

• Adaptation and “loss and damage” – Central role for adaptation and provisions for climate impacts that are difficult or impossible to adapt to, known as “loss and damage”.

As you complete this week, the meeting should be drawing to a close. Are you following events? Do you think a new agreement will be reached?

If you go to the Walker Institute website you can follow developments with us. You can share your thoughts on the questions we’ve raised and discuss the progress in Paris with other learners by leaving comments in the discussion area.

You might also like to set up your own blog or use Twitter and Storify to highlight and discuss events and your reaction to them. Remember to use the course hashtag #FLOurClimate.

Further optional reading:

UNFCCC, 5 October 2015. Draft climate change agreement

Climate Action Tracker update

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This article is from the free online course:

Our Changing Climate: Past, Present and Future

University of Reading