Washington, D.C. — After many years of negotiations, nations have reached a historic moment in the fight against climate change. On December 12, 2015, they forged the Paris climate agreement, a global and legally binding pact to limit greenhouse gas pollution and build resilience to the effects of climate change.
Reaching this agreement, however, was not without its challenges. The Center for American Progress has released an analysis of the agreement’s outcomes from a vantage point on the ground in Paris.
The Paris agreement is uniquely positioned to be effective in the fight against climate change. It is designed to draw nearly universal action and participation from the world’s governments and to encourage them to set and meet ambitious national targets to reduce carbon pollution and adapt to climate impacts.
“The great promise of the Paris agreement is that it is not merely a single set of climate commitments,” said Gwynne Taraska, CAP Senior Policy Advisor and the author of the paper. “Instead, it establishes a framework that elicits increasingly ambitious efforts from all countries to reduce carbon pollution and improve resilience to the effects of climate change. It truly marks a global pivot away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy.”
The way forward to an agreement was not always easy. There were many sticking points that needed to be overcome during the Paris conference to reach consensus. Among the most controversial issues were international climate finance—the topic of how to address climate-induced harm in vulnerable countries—and differentiation, or how different countries should be assigned expectations and obligations given that each has different levels of development, capacity, and responsibility for climate change.
“The agreement speaks to the needs of climate-vulnerable developing countries,” said Taraska. “It also reflects a nuanced form of differentiation, in which all countries are encouraged to contribute to the climate effort in accordance with their capabilities.”
Click here to read the paper.