The Paris Agreement on climate change was adopted on 12 December 2015. It is a legally binding agreement that covers all countries, developed and developing, with the aim to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.
Paris Agreement: Salient features
(a) The Paris Agreement acknowledges the development imperatives of developing countries. The Agreement recognizes the developing countries’ right to development and their efforts to harmonize development with environment, while protecting the interests of the most vulnerable.
(b) The Paris Agreement recognizes the importance of sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption with developed countries taking the lead, and notes the importance of ‘climate justice’ in its preamble.
(c) The Agreement seeks to enhance the ‘implementation of the Convention’ whilst reflecting the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.
(d) The objective of the Agreement further ensures that it is not mitigation-centric and includes other important elements such as adaptation, loss and damage, finance, technology, capacity building and transparency of action and support.
(e) Parties’ contributions under the Paris Agreement are defined as ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ (NDCs), and a top-down approach of undertaking mitigation ambition has been avoided. The NDCs are country driven and comprehensive.
(f) Agreement maintains differentiation in mitigation actions of developed and developing countries.
(g) The Agreement recognizes that the time frame for peaking will be longer for developing countries.
(h) The Agreement recognises that enhanced support from developed countries Parties to developing countries Parties will allow for higher ambition in their action.
(i) The Agreement mandates developed countries to provide financial resources to developing countries. Other parties may also contribute, but on a purely voluntary basis.
(j) The accompanying decision to the Paris Agreement also lays down that US Dollars 100 billion mobilization of funds per year by developed countries will be scaled up after 2020 and before 2025 taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries.
(k) The Agreement also establishes a new technology framework. This framework notes the importance of fully realizing technology development and transfer in order to improve resilience to climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The framework also strives to support collaborative approaches to research and development, and facilitating access to technology, in particular for early stages of the technology cycle, to developing country Parties.
(l) A global goal has been established to increase the adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change. Adaptation has also been accorded equal importance as ‘mitigation’ as demanded by developing countries.
(m) In addition to adaptation, the Paris Agreement includes the concept of ‘Loss & Damage’ and recognizes the importance of averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change and extreme weather events, and identifies various areas of cooperation and support.
(n) A global stocktake, covering all elements, will take place every five years to assess the progress in addressing climate change.
(o) Implementation of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) mechanism has been anchored in the Paris Agreement.
(p) A new market mechanism to provide opportunities for voluntary cooperation in the implementation of the NDCs has been agreed.
(q) An enhanced system for transparency has been agreed to. This will cover not only mitigation and adaptation actions, but also the support provided by developed countries.
(r) A separate Capacity Building Initiative for transparency to help developing countries has been agreed to in order to build institutional and technical capacity.
(s) A new institutional arrangement viz. Paris Committee on Capacity Building will be established for enhancing capacity building activities in developing countries under the Agreement. Developed countries are to provide financial support for capacity building to developing countries.
(t) Pre-2020 actions are also part of the decisions. The developed country parties are urged to scale up their level of financial support with a complete road map to achieve the goal of jointly providing US $ 100 billion by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation by significantly increasing adaptation finance from current levels and to further provide appropriate technology and capacity building support.
The Conference of Parties also witnessed the launch of the historic International Solar Alliance (ISA) which is conceived as a coalition of solar resource rich countries to address their special energy needs and will provide a platform to collaborate on addressing the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach. Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, and Hon’ble President of France, Mr. Hollande, jointly launched this Alliance on 30 November 2015 with representatives of more than 70 countries, including 33 Heads of States and Heads of Governments, attending the launch ceremony. Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, also participated in the launch of Mission Innovation. The Ministry also set up a pavilion which was appreciated by all. It hosted 25 events and attracted over 6500 visitors. ‘Parampara’, a book on traditional Indian climate friendly lifestyles, was launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister at the pavilion.