More than 190 nations meeting in Paris in December 2015 reached a landmark agreement to strengthen the global climate effort. The Paris Agreement commits countries to undertake “nationally determined contributions” and establishes mechanisms to hold them accountable and to strengthen ambition in the years ahead...

C2ES offers a summary of the key outcomes in Paris and other resources related to the climate talks. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.

What’s the status of the Paris Agreement?

The treaty will enter into force when it has been formally accepted by 55 countries accounting for 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is a two-step process: countries first sign the agreement, and then complete domestic ratification or approval procedures.  As of September 1, 2016, 180 countries had signed the agreement and 23 had ratified it. Based on announcements to date, it appears increasingly likely that the threshold for entry into force will be met in late 2016 or in 2017.

The Paris conference was the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), known as COP 21. The conference concluded a round of negotiations launched in Durban, South Africa, in 2011 with the aim of producing a new legal agreement among national governments to strengthen the global response to climate change. A record 150 heads of state and government attended the opening day of the conference.

What were the main outcomes of the Paris conference?

The Paris package had three main components: the Paris Agreement, an international treaty setting common goals, commitments and expectations; the intended “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) submitted by more than 180 countries; and the thousands of contributions offered by companies, states, cities and civil society organizations.

How does the Paris Agreement relate to the UNFCCC?

The UNFCCC, adopted in 1992, is a treaty among governments that provides a foundation for the global climate effort. Enjoying near-universal membership, the convention was ratified by the United States with the advice and consent of the Senate. The convention set a long-term objective (avoiding “dangerous human interference with the climate system”), established principles to guide the global effort, and committed all countries to “mitigate” climate change by reducing or avoiding greenhouse gas emissions. The Paris Agreement defines how countries will implement their UNFCCC commitments after 2020.

What are nationally determined contributions?

In 2013, at COP 19 in Warsaw, parties were encouraged to submit their “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) to the Paris Agreement well in advance of COP 21. These INDCs represent each country’s self-defined mitigation goals for the period beginning in 2020. To date, 189 countries accounting for almost 99 percent of global emissions have submitted INDCs to the UNFCCC secretariat.

Developed countries have offered absolute economy-wide emissions targets (the United States, for instance, has pledged to reduce its emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025). Developing countries have offered a range of approaches, including absolute economy-wide targets, reductions in emissions intensity (emissions per unit of GDP), reductions from projected “business-as-usual” emissions, and reductions in per-capita emissions. C2ES has produced a summary of countries’ INDCs.

Final NDCs are submitted by each party upon its formal ratification or acceptance of the agreement, and are recorded in a UNFCCC registry.

What obligations do countries have under the agreement to reduce their emissions?

The Paris Agreement establishes a set of binding procedural commitments. Parties commit to “prepare, communicate and maintain” successive NDCs; to “pursue domestic mitigation measures” aimed at achieving their NDCs; and to regularly report on their emissions and on progress in implementing their NDCs. The agreement also sets the expectation that each party’s successive NDC will “represent a progression” beyond its previous one and “reflect its highest possible ambition.”  The achievement by a party of its NDCs is not a legally binding obligation.

Does the agreement meet the goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius?

In agreements adopted in Copenhagen in 2009 and Cancún in 2010, governments set a goal of keeping global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The Paris Agreement reaffirms the 2-degree goal, while urging efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The agreement also sets two other long-term mitigation goals: first, a peaking of emissions as soon as possible (recognizing that it will take longer for developing countries); then, a goal of net greenhouse gas neutrality (“a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks”) in the second half of the century.

Analyses of the INDCs submitted by countries conclude that, while they move us closer to the 2-degree goal, they are not ambitious enough to achieve it. An analysis by the Climate Action Tracker, a consortium of research institutions, concluded that the INDCs, if fully implemented, could result in warming of 2.7 degrees Celsius, which would be 0.9 degrees lower than without them.

How will the Paris Agreement get countries to increase their ambition?

The Paris Agreement provides a durable framework guiding the global effort for decades to come. The aim is to create a continuous cycle that keeps the pressure on countries to raise their ambition over time. To promote rising ambition, the agreement establishes two linked processes, each on a five-year cycle. The first process is a “global stocktake” to assess collective progress toward meeting the agreement’s long-term goals. Parties will then submit new NDCs, “informed by the outcomes of the global stocktake.”

Because the Paris Agreement is to apply post-2020, the first formal stocktake under the agreement will not take place until 2023. But under a decision accompanying the agreement, parties will jumpstart the 5-year cycle with a “facilitative dialogue” on collective progress in 2018, and the submission by 2020 of NDCs running through 2030.

How will parties be held accountable?

Accountability will be achieved primarily through an “enhanced transparency framework.” All countries are required to submit emissions inventories and the “information necessary to track progress made in implementing and achieving” their NDCs. These reports will be subject to an independent review by technical experts and a “facilitative, multilateral consideration of progress” by fellow governments.

Unlike the current transparency system under the UNFCCC, which sets different requirements for developed and developing countries, the new transparency framework will apply to all countries but provide “built-in flexibility” to accommodate varying national capacities. The aim is for all parties to work toward the same standards of accountability as their capacities strengthen over time.

In addition, the agreement establishes a new mechanism to “facilitate implementation and promote compliance.” This “non-adversarial” committee of experts will seek to help countries falling behind on their commitments get back on track. There are no penalties for noncompliance.

How does the agreement address climate adaptation?

Adaptation—steps to cope with the impacts of climate change—receives much greater emphasis under the Paris Agreement than previously under the UNFCCC. Just as parties will submit mitigation contributions, the agreement requires all parties, “as appropriate,” to plan and implement adaptation efforts and encourages all parties to report on their adaptation efforts and/or needs. The agreement also includes a review of adaptation progress, and the adequacy and effectiveness of adaptation support, in the global stocktake to be undertaken every five years.

What does the Paris outcome do to support the efforts of developing countries?

Developed countries committed under the UNFCCC to support mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries. As part of the Copenhagen and Cancún agreements, developed countries committed to mobilize $100 billion a year in public and private finance for developing countries by 2020.

The Paris Agreement reaffirms developed countries’ UNFCCC obligations; the COP decision accompanying the agreement extends the $100 billion-a-year goal through 2025, and calls for a new goal beyond that “from a floor of” $100 billion a year. The agreement also broadens the donor base beyond developed countries by encouraging other countries to provide support “voluntarily.” China, for instance, recently pledged $3 billion to help other developing countries.

Many national governments offered new financial pledges in Paris. Collectively, developed countries pledged $19 billion to help developing countries, including an announcement by Secretary of State John Kerry that, by 2020, the United States will double its support for adaptation efforts to $800 million a year. In another sign that developing countries are now also providing support, Vietnam pledged $1 million to the new Green Climate Fund (GCF). And for the first time, subnational governments also offered pledges, including 1 million euros from the city of Paris for the GCF, and CAD 6 million from Quebec for the UNFCCC Least Developed Countries Fund. As of June 2016, $10.3 billion has been pledged to the Green Climate Fund from 43 governments.

Does the Paris Agreement address carbon markets?

Many countries indicated in their INDCs that they intend to use some form of international emissions trading to implementing their contributions. To ensure the environmental integrity of such transactions, the agreement requires parties to follow accounting practices avoiding the double counting of “internationally transferred mitigation outcomes.” In addition, the agreement establishes a new mechanism contributing to mitigation and supporting sustainable development, which, depending on its design, could generate or certify tradable emission units.

How did the Paris conference engage stakeholders such as states, cities and business?

Although only national governments participate directly in the negotiations, COP 21 provided many opportunities to showcase the contributions of “non-state actors” to the global climate effort. The strong display of commitments by cities, subnational governments and businesses at the New York Climate Summit in September 2014 led to the establishment at COP 20 of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda and the online NAZCA portal, where non-state actors can register their commitments. By the time of Paris, the portal listed nearly 11,000 commitments from 2,250 cities, 2,2025 companies, and hundreds of states/regions, investors and civil society organizations. The unprecedented showing of action and support from all levels of society was widely credited as an important factor in Paris’ success.  Governments and stakeholder groups are working to strengthen non-state contributions to the UNFCCC.

Is the agreement legally binding?

Yes. The agreement is considered a “treaty” under international law, but only certain provisions are legally binding. The issue of which provisions to make binding was a central concern for many countries, in particular the United States, which wanted an agreement the president could accept without seeking congressional approval. Meeting that test precluded binding emission targets and new binding financial commitments. The agreement, however, includes binding procedural commitments – such as the requirements to maintain successive NDCs and to report on progress in implementing them.

Will Congress have any say over the agreement?

Under U.S. law, a president may under certain circumstances approve U.S. participation in an international agreement without submitting it to Congress. Important considerations include whether the new agreement is implementing a prior agreement such as the UNFCCC that was ratified with the advice and consent of the Senate, and whether it is consistent with, and can be implemented on the basis of, existing U.S. law. Because the agreement does not include binding emission targets, or binding financial commitments beyond those contained in the UNFCCC, and can be implemented on the basis of existing law, the president could choose to approve it by executive action.

A C2ES legal analysis examines issues surrounding U.S. acceptance of the Paris Agreement.

Could a future president withdraw the United States from the agreement?

Under U.S. law, U.S. participation in an international agreement can be terminated by a president, acting on executive authority, or by an act of Congress, regardless of how the United States joined the agreement. The Paris Agreement specifies that a party may not withdraw from the agreement within the first three years following its entry into force.

What happens next?

As countries undertake domestic procedures to formally accept the Paris Agreement, they they also are expected to continue moving forward with the domestic policies needed to implement their nationally determined contributions.

At the same time, governments are negotiating the details of how the Paris Agreement will be implemented – for instance, accounting rules and accountability procedures.  These decisions are likely to be finalized by 2018.  The next major UNFCCC conference, COP 22, will take place in Marrakech, Morocco, in November 2016. 

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  • Daniel Lavigne
    commented 2016-09-06 19:50:51 -0700
    As always, “Job One For Humanity” has my all-encompassing support. However, I have a very different view of our “Timeline To Suicidal Rage”:

    Mothers! Fathers!
    Runaway Global Heating & Our Early Extinction
    Is The Price Of ‘Our Prized Mobility’!
    Our children, unless they have very slow and stupid parents, know that our non-stop emissions guarantee . . . A Dead and Lifeless Planet . . .
    Dare you acknowledge their pain of seeing it happen,
    and the price they will exact if we let it continue?
    Parents! Politicians!
    Our children’s survival demands that we wake to the crisis,
    confront our conduct, live simply, waste nothing,
    store personal vehicles
    use public transport and limit family size & needs.
    Or expect non-stop near future Super Storms that will lead to:
    - their angered and worldwide suicidal rage -
    Minimizing that rage requires the immediate rejection of fossil fuels
    to minimize the severe conditions that will soon devastate their world!
    Parents: Wake Up! Note the dates herein!
    Catastrophic Climate Change & Runaway Global Warming
    The Tallberg Forum 2008
    > <
    > <
    Parents! Politicians! If you care . . . truly care . . . about children, you will ensure that everyone known to you understands the lethal ‘why’ of
    President Obama’s message of October 2015:
    ‘If we don’t soon act, there will come a time when it will be too late to act.’
    We must act!
    Indeed! A growing awareness, due the Tallberg Forum 2008, of a possible tipping point leading to a ‘Sudden Onset Runaway Global Heating Scenario’, is ‘why’ signatories to ‘The Paris Agreement’ of December 2015, made their decision in New York, on April 22nd 2016, to accelerate future ‘Start Dates’ of that agreement’s agenda!

    (Woe! Regardless the involvement of ‘The Dynamic Duo – Trudeau and DiCaprio’, nothing has been done to immediately and seriously confront the threat our conduct poses to our very existence!) Such aside . . .

    26 days later! CBC News! May 18th 2016: The last 12 months are the hottest on record! With – no reaction – from governments or news media?

    47 days later! July 4th, 2016 Scientists state: First six months this year are hottest ever! Related announcement: Most fish stocks are close to collapse.
    Again, with – no reaction – from governments or news media?

    The “why” of such is readily discernible:
    Ignoring President Obama’s message
    increased the risk to our future!

    August 3rd, 2016 Scientists state that 2015 was the hottest year on record!

    20 + months of
    non-stop global heat rise!
    What can we do?
    Immediate rejection
    of all fossil fuels
    is all we can do!

    Absent our immediate acceptance and full compliance with that only solution, we face non-stop runaway global heating!

    If we actually ‘care about our children’:
    We store our personal vehicles! To-Day!

    ‘Save The Children’ organizations!
    Get Involved!
    Join this ‘Last Gasp’ effort!
    No Children = No Organizations!

    Parents! Teachers!
    We are losing our planet!

    Fight Back! Tell Everyone!
    Tell them hard! And tell them straight!
    We must scrap our polluters! . . . Our shiny polluters!
    We must scrap ALL polluters! . . . Or FRY at Hell’s Gate!

    Reality: We can’t afford to ‘scrap’ them. That will release too much more heat and greenhouse gases to our overheated atmosphere! We must ‘Park’ them.

    Ask your neighbors for their input!
    Ask them to describe what they would have advised others to do,
    20 years ago, for a head start, to-day, at reducing the possibility of a
    ‘Confirmed Accelerating Global Heating Scenario’
    in the next 20 months!
    Then: Because such won’t be broadcast by bought and sold governments, or profit driven ad media:

    Confirm your concern by promoting your neighbors’, or your own
    20/20 preparations non-stop, worldwide!
    Do so by utilizing one of our domains below (or your own)!
    Use one to prod our moral and survival responses!

    Use one to help protect everything our children will need to survive, including the air, soil, water and temperature ranges that facilitate and permit our existence, today.

    Or use one to help guide preparations for a massive multiplication of mental health issues as ‘Our prized mobility requirements’ helps America’s racist, side-switching psycho to mock and minimize the abandonment of our children to a heating hell on earth!

    Should you see him, sing him a song!
    Poor Swirly! Poor Twirly! As you fall from ‘Your’ wall!
    Due to no glue! . . And few clues! . . Indeed! . . None at all!
    Hope that Hillary and Bernie ‘sweep your soft side away’
    Lest ‘Time’ leaves you . . . ‘Shell man’ . . . in complete dis-array!
    Poor Silly, poor Twirly! As you slip and then fall!
    Due to no glue! . . . and few clues! . . . Indeed! . . . none at all . . .
    Swirly, old chap, control your murderous glare! The above is but a mild example of a ‘Harsh Attack!’. Get off your horse, stop lying and apologize to Mr. & Mrs. Kazir Khan!

    Prods to ‘Ole Swirly’ aside, we heed the message or suffer the rage; as ‘reality’ dictates the terms of our near future existence.

    As for Ole Swirly’s ‘My Way – Or Else!’ approach to life:

    Dare any sane person trust ‘Ole Swirly’ with the fate of Humanity?

    AMERICA! Vote for Hillary! Vote for Stability!

    Or suffer the non-stop / no substance ‘Soundbites’ that seem to be the sole focus of Ole Swirly’s search for ‘Star Status’ by any means; whatever the cost to all others!

    Now: A personal and self-endangering plea to the world beyond the above ‘attack’ on the repulsive Republican nominee for the office of the President of the United States.

    The following, ‘Ole Swirly’, is an example of ‘sacrifice’ . . .

    As a ‘Purported Pedophile’ and, due to such, reluctant to discuss or engage in any matter, regardless my poetry regarding questions of ‘Duty’, I risk my life to say:

    - For the future of our children -
    We heed the message, or suffer the loss of our world.

    The situation is so critical / so serious .. that this is a “Words only, personal thoughts necessary.” plea to all that
    < across all barriers and divisions.>

    To all Teachers: Prepare your students!
    We have reached the feared ‘Tipping Point’.

    Our purported love for our children demands that we accept and act on the message!

    Absent such, they shall suffer in the shadows of an earthly hell.

    As for President Obama and the advisers that shed midnight tears in a copious deluge when realizing the ‘Life Terminating’ scale of our situation:

    ‘We’, as in ‘Humanity’, have a duty to openly thank them; and curse ourselves for being so driven by greed as to have failed to see what was happening before our eyes!

    A Necessary Caution

    The possibility of a recurrence of ‘Dadaism’ is a threat to all. (A lethal fad that ended the lives of several million young people AFTER the First World War!)

    While we MUST stop the use of ALL personal vehicles and PLAN the use of all engines involved in the production and distribution of food, WE DARE NOT embrace hopelessness!

    To ‘Survive’, we must change.

    Otherwise, our mandated support of politically acceptable threats to murder ‘The other half of Humanity if need be’; shall win the day and we will lose our world as we continue to add more heat and lethal emissions to our atmosphere and, due to such, succumb to ‘Eternal Night’; with no postscripts to explain our doubtful ‘beliefs’, religions, taxes and ‘The Rule of Law’.

    June 24, 2016 England votes to leave the European Union. The “leave” vote was driven by concerns of individuals who still remember the madness of World War Two; and are determined to prevent climate refugees (And others fleeing the economic circumstances imposed upon them by greed.) from harming or interfering with their ability(?) to deal with near-future socio-economic-political-survival realities.

    Such informs us that we must confront the “Accelerating Global Heating Scenario” that most Politicians (Including Ole Swirly!) now understand must be confronted!

    However, due “the personal greed requirements” of individuals who guaranteed their election, they insist that no one be informed that we must store our personal vehicles!

    Ergo! Humanity’s survival is in the hands of individuals with courage to organize “Lets Do What We Can!” meetings whereby we can develop a commitment to do NOTHING that will put more heat into our atmosphere.

    Woe! If we don’t soon act & our descendants ask what we did to prevent climate changes that forced them to live in the shadows of hell – what will be said in our favour?

    That abandoning our prized mobility was an impossibility? If so . .

    > Hum Low The Bells Of Kyoto <

    Hum Low The Bells Of Kyoto
    Bang low your dirge to the sea.
    Your sound so despond will not travel long
    Your tune was not meant to be.

    Drum Low The Bells Of Kyoto
    Speak soft of our crimes of the past
    And sing loud the cry that truth had to die
    In order that profits would last.

    Cry Low The Bells Of Kyoto
    Sing soft the lies of our greed
    And peal plaintive song of needs all gone wrong
    And air unfit to breathe.

    Hum soft all the bells! To an empty world tell!
    Of Kyoto’s smiles and deceits
    Hum soft all the bells!
    To an empty world tell!
    The greed of lies on spreadsheets.

    Copyright December 8, 1997 Daniel J. Lavigne

    My book,
    ‘Purported Pedophile’
    should be available by June /July next year (2017).
    Not that such shall change anything.
    Unless we change.

    Our Children, BTW, continue to say:
    Translate! Duplicate! Distribute! Display!
    To the People and the Spirit of Brazil!
    for the Olympic Games and the
    Imperative of ‘The Message’!
    With all Heart! Thank You!

    Subsequent to all reviews and appraisals of the crisis;
    should our failure to take immediate action lead to thoughts of an early exit:

    Make A Statement!

    Consider a pre-departure gift of an appropriate Domain name as a contribution to this effort to wake Humanity. (And a continuing effort to provide health and dental care to the young and impoverished in the Golden Triangle area.)

    All statements associated with such or other gifts shall be acknowledged worldwide and sealed in time capsules as:

    Observations of Humanity’s Pre-Extinction Thoughts & Behaviour

    The “Activists Domains” displayed below are for rent @ $40.00/month (US$) rent, payable 6 months in advance, for a total start-up cost of $240.00. Rental sites utilize C-Panel technology and are relatively easy to load and manage.

    They remain available for sale with a 14 day “first right to purchase” period by the rental agreement holder to meet or surpass the offered price of any purchase offer received.

    All Domain name donations and rental enquiries regarding the ‘Action Domains’ below, should be sent to: [email protected],,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and &

    We have a maximum of 20 months to have everyone embrace “The Message”! After that period, if we fail to act NOW . . It will be too late.
    Get busy! Get “Out There” and say and do what must be said and done to save our world!
    Thank you.
    Daniel J. Lavigne
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