The EU and its member states are among the nearly 190 parties to the Paris Agreement. The EU formally ratified the agreement on 5 October 2016, allowing it to enter into force on 4 November 2016. In order for the agreement to enter into force, at least 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions had to file their ratification instruments. The Paris agreement is not without its critics and it is not the agreement that everyone wanted. Many believe that emissions targets are not sufficient and stricter targets are needed to limit the effects of climate change. It is also worrying that some of the agreement`s commitments are not legally binding and, more recently, the President-elect of the United States has raised concerns by promising to withdraw the United States (responsible for 17.8% of global emissions) from the agreement. To contribute to the goals of the agreement, countries presented comprehensive national climate change plans (national fixed contributions, NDC). These are not yet sufficient to meet the agreed temperature targets, but the agreement points to the way forward for further measures. The Paris Agreement is the first legally binding universal global agreement on climate change adopted at the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) in December 2015. The UK`s goal under the 2015 Paris Agreement, when it shared a joint emissions plan with the EU, was to reduce by 53% by 2030. However, this was widely considered non-stretchable and the UK also had a national CO2 budget, in accordance with the Climate Change Act, which imposes an average reduction of 57% between 2028 and 2032. The agreement recognizes the role of non-partisan stakeholders in the fight against climate change, including cities, other sub-national authorities, civil society, the private sector and others.
We look at what this means and why this historic agreement is so important. The emissions reductions promised under the agreement are ambitious, but drastic measures are urgently needed if we are to limit global warming to a safe level. As Greenpeace International Chief Executive Kumi Naidoo said following last year`s agreement in Paris: « This agreement alone will not dig us the hole we find ourselves in, but it makes the pages less steep. » It will also enable the contracting parties to gradually strengthen their contributions to the fight against climate change in order to achieve the long-term objectives of the agreement. Each country that signs the Paris Agreement has set a target known as the national contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. But the first round in 2015 was not enough to meet the Paris goal of keeping global warming well below 2C above pre-industrial levels, with the goal of reaching a limit of 1.5 C. The United Kingdom officially presented on Thursday evening (3 December) the target of a 68% reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The objective will serve as a national contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement, which will define the necessary internal measures that each country must take to contribute to the implementation of the comprehensive agreement. Jill Duggan, Director of The Prince of Wales` Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), said: « The UK government`s ratification of the agreement today sends an important signal to international allies, businesses and investors about the inevitable transition to a zero-carbon economy. » The relative strength of these objectives depends not only on the date and nature of the obligation – whether defined by law or as government policy – but also and above all on the coverage of the objective. This complicates international comparisons.