At the UN Paris climate conference (COP 21) in December 2015, nearly 200 governments came together to adopt a historic new climate deal: the Paris Agreement.
This Agreement will replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol—an international treaty requiring developed countries to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, which expires in 2020.
The Paris Agreement will be open for signature by governments from 22 April 2016 to 21 April 2017. It will come into effect once it is joined by 55 countries that emit at least 55% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Why it matters
For the first time in history, the Paris Agreement requires all countries to take action on climate change.
It does this by requiring all governments to submit updated domestic climate action plans every five years. These Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) represent an important opportunity for citizens and local civil society to hold their governments to account to submit ambitious plans that are in line with science.
So far, more than 185 countries, representing over 90% of global emissions have submitted domestic climate action plans. The first set of NDCs will take effect in 2020.
The Paris Agreement also commits countries to limit the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C.
Countries’ progress towards meeting these targets will be evaluated every five years through global stocktakes. These will inform governments as they develop their new NDCs. The first of such evaluation will take place in 2023.
Importantly, the Paris Agreement takes into account the many different dimensions of the climate change challenge, including reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to climate change, and addressing climate loss and damage. It includes provisions for support to developing countries in the forms of finance, technology transfer and capacity building.
What WWF is doing
WWF is working hard to ensure that governments join the Paris Agreement and increase the ambition of their national action plans so that the sum of these plans puts us on the pathway to a climate-safe future. This work will be continued at the next UN climate meeting.
Ensuring that governments double down on their climate efforts in the years preceding 2020 is another important part of our work, and a scientific necessity if countries are going to meet the long-term temperature targets agreed in Paris. Learn more about WWF's work here