• Rachana Kadikar

What is the Paris Climate Agreement?

With climate change increasingly worsening, the Paris Climate Agreement was drafted and adopted in December 2015. With a goal to limit the global warming to about 1.5 degrees Celsius, countries aim to limit greenhouse gas emissions and reach a neutral climate by 2050.

To reach these goals, countries must transform, both economically and socially, by following science. The agreement operates on cycles of five years of climate action carried out by the countries. By 2020, countries had to submit their nationally determined contributions, which are the country's plans for environmental action. These plans are accompanied by long-term goals for low greenhouse gas emissions (LT-LEDS), and the plans to implement them. Unlike the nationally determined contributions however, the LT-LEDS aren't mandatory to follow through with.

For countries that need aid for implementing their goals for reducing climate change, The Paris Agreement states that the developed countries should provide financial support to vulnerable and less able to invest in reduction of emissions. In addition, a significant amount of finances are needed to deal with the negative effects of climate change on different areas of life. For this, the agreement puts emphasis on capacity-building relating to climate for developing countries, supported by the more developed countries.

The United Nations for Climate Change claims that countries have began innovating in low-carbon and zero-carbon solutions and more areas are looking to put in place carbon neutrality targets (carbon neutrality is the idea of balancing CO2 emissions by removing/eliminating emissions until net zero emissions are achieved).

Changes to the U.S. climate policy made under Trump's presidency resulted in the United States formally leaving the Paris Climate Agreement in November 2020. Current president Joe Biden reentered the Paris Climate agreement immediately after inauguration, and was formally reinstated in February 2021.

Many countries claimed huge progress on their goals for 2020, but carbon emissions were still increasing even during this time, raising into question the validity of these claims.