FAQs on Paris Agreement

paris-agreement-logo-2016Entry into Force of the Paris Agreement and COP22 FAQs

Q: What will happen on 4 November? The Paris Agreement on climate change will officially enter into force. The Paris Agreement states, in Article 21, paragraph 1, that the Agreement will enter into force 30 days after the date on which at least 55 countries, accounting for 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions, have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval with the UN Secretary General.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that on 5 October 2016 that the conditions for the entry into force of the Paris Agreement had been met and that it shall enter into force on 4 November 2016. An event marking the entry into force of the Agreement will take place at UN Headquarters on that day.

Countries began joining the agreement on 22 April, when 175 countries signed the agreement and 15 deposited their instruments of ratification. The world’s two largest emitters, China and the United States, joined the Paris Agreement in early September, and on 21 September, 60 countries had joined. The threshold for entry into force was achieved on 5 October, when a total of 73 countries and the European Union joined the Agreement, exceeding the 55 per cent threshold for emissions.

Q: Why did the Paris Agreement set a double threshold for entry into force? The Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming well below 2 degree Celsius and as close to 1.5 degree Celsius as possible, to increase economic and social ability to adapt to extreme climate, and to direct the scale and speed of global financial flows to match the required path to very low-emission, climate resilient development. To this end, and to ensure the effectiveness of the Paris Agreement, countries agreed that it was not only necessary for many countries to join, but also to ensures that the major greenhouse gas emitters were also prepared to join.

Q: What will be the focus of COP22? The 22nd Session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) will be held in Marrakech, November 7 to 18, 2016. COP22 look to take the Paris Agreement forward and ensure that efforts to implement the Agreement begin.

In Paris, governments submitted national plans for climate action, pledging never to lower efforts and to raise their ambition over time. Governments and parties will be working to complete the details of a rulebook which will measure, account for and review global climate action. This will ensure transparency on all sides needed to accelerate climate action by making sure that everyone is involved in the effort and is delivering to the best of their abilities.

Governments also agreed to strengthen adequate technology and financial support to developing nations so they can build their own sustainable, clean energy futures.

Climate action will be a major focus of COP22. Civil society, businesses, and other non-party stakeholders are showing increased interest and commitment to lowering the carbon emissions and supporting governments and parties in their fight against the dire effects of climate change.

Q: How many countries have joined the Paris Agreement so far? A total of 94 Parties have ratified the Paris Agreement as of 3 November, accounting for well more than 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The list of the countries that signed or joined the Paris Agreement is available at: https://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=XXVII-7- d&chapter=27&clang=_en

Q: What is the next step towards the implementation of the Paris Agreement? During COP22 in Marrakesh, countries will also convene the first Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement from 15–18 November. Countries that have not yet joined the Agreement may participate in the meeting as observers. Countries still have to work out many of the details, and entry into force has come much sooner than expected.

Q: By when should a Party to the Convention deposit its instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval of the Paris Agreement to be able to participate at the first Meeting of the Parties? To participate in the proceedings of the first Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement as a Party to the Agreement, countries should deposit its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession at least 30 days in advance of the Meeting.

Parties to the Convention that deposit their instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession after the relevant deadline may participate and make interventions as observers.

Q: What is the difference between ratification, acceptance and approval? After signing of the Paris Agreement, countries then formally join the Paris Agreement. This can be done by depositing one of the three types of instruments—ratification, acceptance or approval—with the UN Secretary-General.

The nature of domestic approval system depends on each country’s national constitution and regulatory framework. When a country fulfills its required domestic legal procedures, it can deposit its instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval to the Secretary-General, indicating its consent to be bound by the Paris Agreement.

Q: What are the most significant aspects about the agreement? The agreement provides a pathway forward to limit temperature rise to well below 2 degrees, maybe even 1.5.

The agreement provides a mechanism to increase the level of ambition. The Paris Agreement is an ambitious, dynamic and universal agreement. It covers all countries and all emissions, and is designed to last. This is a monumental agreement. It solidifies international cooperation for climate change. It provides a way forward.

The Paris Agreement sends a powerful signal to markets that now is the time to invest in the low emission economy. It contains a transparency framework to build mutual trust and confidence.

It will serve as an important tool in mobilizing finance technological support and capacity building for developing countries. And it will also help to scale up global efforts to address and minimize loss and damage from climate change.

Q: Is this agreement really going to help? Yes. There is no question that the world will be much better off because of this agreement. The agreement will help move us toward a more sustainable future.

The agreement is ambitious and it provides all the tools we need to address climate change, for reducing emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The proof will be in the implementation.

Q: What does the agreement require countries to do? The agreement requires all countries to take action, while recognizing their differing situations and circumstances. Under the Agreement, countries are responsible for taking action on both mitigation and adaptation.

Countries officially submitted their own nationally determined climate actions. They have an obligation to implement these plans, and if they do, it will bend the curve downward in the projected global temperature rise.

The agreement not only formalizes the process of developing national plans, but also it provides a binding requirement to assess and review progress on these plans. This mechanism will require countries to continuously upgrade their commitments and ensure that there will be no backtracking.

This agreement is a clarion call from governments that they are ready for implementing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Q: What happens if a country doesn’t live up to its commitments? Would there be any enforcement? Countries have every reason to comply with the terms of the Agreement. It is in their interest to implement the agreement, not only in terms of achieving the benefits of taking climate action, but also to show global solidarity.

There is no benefit to flouting the Agreement. Any short-term time gain will be short-lived. It will undoubtedly be overshadowed by negative reactions, by other countries, financial markets, and most important, by their citizens.

Q: Is this agreement legally binding? The Paris Agreement is a legal instrument that will guide the process for universally acting on climate change. It is a hybrid of legally binding and nonbinding provisions.

The Agreement consists of a core agreement that governs the international process will be binding on parties, while there are elements that are not part of the legally binding agreement. These parts, such as the intended nationally determined contributions, may be binding at the national level.

Q: Developing countries stressed the need for equity and fairness. Does the Agreement provide that? Yes. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is reflected in this Agreement. There is clearly a duty on all parties to take climate action, according to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities, in the light of different national circumstances.

Q: How can Paris get us to the 2 degree—or even 1.5 degree goal? The Paris agreement helps us to avoid locking in a level of ambition that would make the well below 2 degrees goal improbable. In 2018 countries will have an opportunity to review their collective effort against the global goals prior to formally submitting their national contributions to the new agreement. This exercise will be repeated every five years.

We have an agreement and we have a chance now to reach our goal. We couldn’t say that without an agreement. The Paris Agreement will put us on a pathway to achieve the 2 degree goal or less. We did not expect to leave Paris with commitments to reach that goal, but rather, with a process that will get us there. And that is what the Agreement provides.

Q: How are climate change and the Paris Agreement linked with the Sustainable Development Goals? A strong climate agreement backed by action on the ground will help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, build stronger economies and safer, healthier, and more liveable societies everywhere. There are 12 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that directly involve taking action on climate change– in addition to climate change having its own goal.

The Paris Conference featured thousands of climate action announcements that demonstrated how civil society and the private sector are moving forward to address climate change.

The Global Action Agenda is continuing with news commitments being made by cities and regions to companies and investors in 2016 and in advance of COP22 in Morocco.

Q: Why is it so urgent that we do something now? The world has warmed before, but never this quickly, and it is due to human activities. For instance, the changes in the Arctic between just six years ago and now are shocking. We can limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees if we take action now. We need all countries and all sectors of society to act now—it is in the interests of everyone. It is doable. Taking climate action now makes good economic sense. The more we delay, the more we pay. We can promote economic growth, eradicate extreme poverty, and improve people’s health and wellbeing by acting today.