The Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, is a landmark agreement in the global effort to combat climate change. It is a legally binding agreement that brings together 196 countries with the goal of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Each country participating in the Paris Agreement is required to make a commitment to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and provide regular updates on their progress towards meeting those commitments. These commitments, also known as “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs), are submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and are a critical component of the Paris Agreement.
The NDCs are intended to be progressive, with each country committing to increasingly ambitious targets over time. The first round of NDCs was submitted in 2015, with many countries updating their commitments in subsequent years. The most recent update was due in 2020, but many countries have been delayed in submitting their updated plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
So far, the NDCs submitted by countries vary widely in their level of ambition. Some countries, such as Norway and Costa Rica, have committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Others, such as Russia and Saudi Arabia, have made less ambitious commitments that do not align with the Paris Agreement goals.
One of the challenges of the Paris Agreement is ensuring that countries follow through on their commitments. While the NDCs are legally binding, the agreement does not include strong enforcement mechanisms. Instead, it relies on a system of monitoring and reporting, with countries expected to regularly update their progress towards meeting their commitments.
Despite these challenges, the Paris Agreement represents a critical step forward in the global effort to combat climate change. It has united countries around a common goal and provides a framework for international cooperation on this critical issue. As we move forward, it will be important for countries to continue to strengthen their commitments and take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.