The Paris Agreement:
Everything you need to know
The Paris Agreement is a landmark in the multilateral climate change process because, for the first time, a binding agreement brings all nations into a common source to get involved in combating climate change.
What is the Paris Agreement?
The agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 parties at COP 21 in Paris on the 12th December 2015 and entered into force on the 4th November 2016.
The overall goal is to stop the world’s average temperature from rising more than two degrees, or ideally 1.5⁰C. Achieving this would likely prevent the worst impacts of climate change, but, unfortunately, the world isn’t even on track to hit that goal.
To get on track, countries need to set more ambitious short-term goals for how they plan to reduce their emissions and work harder to keep their promises. According to The Guardian, scientists say we need to cut emissions by at least 45% in the next decade to stay under that 1.5⁰C limit.
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The countries involved in the Paris Agreement
Under the Paris Agreement, each country has to say how much they plan to reduce their contribution to climate change. Since 2015, 197 countries have endorsed the agreement, and of those, 190 have solidified their support with formal approval.
Here’s a brief look at some of these countries’ latest commitments:
- UK – A new plan aims for at least a 68% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
- USA – They recently re-joined the agreement as Joe Biden was appointed President.
- France – They negotiate as part of the EU (European Union). Their commitment is to reduce GHG emissions by at least 55% by 2030.
- China – As the world’s largest emitter, China is accountable for around 28% of global emissions. However, under the Paris Agreement, they pledged to cut the carbon intensity by 60-65% against a 2005 baseline.
How is the UK doing towards its Paris Agreement commitments?
Since 2008, the UK government has had to set five-year greenhouse gas targets by law. While we were a part of the EU, the UK’s target for 2020 was a reduction of 16% on 2005 emissions. The targets set under the first three carbon budgets have been met, too.
According to Greenpeace, for the last ten years, the UK’s carbon footprint has fallen fast. That’s because we have mostly stopped using power plants that burn coal which is the most polluting fossil fuel.
What is the UK’s Net Zero 2030 plan?
In December 2020, Boris Johnson announced that the 2030 goal for the UK would be to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 68-69% by the end of the decade. This will mean an even faster pace of decarbonisation for industries, transport, and homes.
How you can get involved
Due to the UK government mandating that all businesses will need to be Net Zero by 2050, every company will be required to get on board with reducing carbon emissions.
Whatever your contribution to combating climate change, you can make a difference. Get involved and take your first steps to become a Climate Change Professional and make your pledge today.