Back in November and December 2015, the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC COP21) Happened in Paris. UNFCC is a global environmental agreement on climate change, where there are 195 States Parties, such as the UK. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned of the consequences of neglecting to restrict global temperature rises to at least two degrees Celsius (above pre-industrial times), highlighting that the consequences would pose a danger to humanity and could lead to irreversible climate shift.
The meeting in Paris was hailed as a make-or-break opportunity to secure an global agreement on strategies to tacking climate change, a dedication to some longer-term goal of near zero net emissions in the second half of the century, and supporting a transition to a clean market and very low carbon society.
The key points of the Paris agreement are summarised below. The agreement is supposed to come into force in 2020.
Mitigation: reducing emissions
– A long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels;
– To aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change;
– On the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries;
– To undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science.
Before and during the Paris conference, countries submitted comprehensive national climate action plans (INDCs). These are not yet enough to keep global warming below 2°C, but the agreement traces the way to achieving this target.
Transparency and global stocktake
Governments agreed to:
– Come together every 5 years to set more ambitious targets as required by science;
– Report to each other and the public on how well they are doing to implement their targets;
– Track progress towards the long-term goal through a robust transparency and accountability system.
Governments agreed to:
– Strengthen societies’ ability to deal with the impacts of climate change;
– Provide continued and enhanced international support for adaptation to developing countries.
Loss and damage
The agreement also:
– Recognises the importance of averting, minimising and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change;
– Acknowledges the need to cooperate and enhance the understanding, action and support in different areas such as early warning systems, emergency preparedness and risk insurance.
– The EU and other developed countries will continue to support climate action to reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change impacts in developing countries.
– Other countries are encouraged to provide or continue to provide such support voluntarily.
– Developed countries intend to continue their existing collective goal to mobilise USD 100 billion per year until 2025 when a new collective goal will be set.
Wales has a significant role to play in helping the broader UK to meet this target and the Environment (Wales) Act will provide a solid legislative framework for actions in this area. With the advent of the Well-being of Future Generations Act, Wales is making a commitment to moving forward with sustainability, ecological resilience and worldwide responsibility at the heart of all decision making.