The 2015 Paris Climate Accords, also known as the Paris Agreement, was a historic international treaty signed by 195 countries with the goal of addressing the global threat of climate change. The accord, which was adopted on December 12, 2015, and entered into force on November 4, 2016, marked the first time that nearly every country in the world committed to taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global temperature rise. Former United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said of the accords, "The Paris Agreement is a testament to the courage and vision of world leaders, who came together to forge a new beginning for our planet. It is a triumph for multilateralism, for the rule of law, and for the idea that, together, we can take action to protect our shared home."
The Paris Climate Accords were the result of decades of negotiations and scientific research on climate change. In 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established by the United Nations to provide scientific assessments on the state of the earth's climate and its potential future impacts. The IPCC's findings, which were based on the work of thousands of scientists from around the world, consistently showed that human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation, were causing the earth's temperature to rise and leading to a host of negative consequences, such as more frequent and intense heatwaves, droughts, and floods. In their statement to policymakers, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had this to say of the accords, "The Paris Climate Accords marked a historic moment in the fight against climate change, as nearly every country in the world committed to taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global temperature rise."
Despite the efforts of the international community, progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions has been slow and uneven. Many countries, particularly those with rapidly growing economies, have continued to rely heavily on fossil fuels, and global emissions have continued to rise. This has led to widespread concern that the goals of the Paris Climate Accords may not be achieved and that the impacts of climate change may be even more severe than previously predicted.
To address this challenge, many countries have begun implementing policies and programs to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and transition to cleaner forms of energy. These efforts include the development of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, as well as the adoption of energy-efficient technologies and practices. In addition, some countries have implemented carbon pricing mechanisms, such as carbon taxes or cap and trade systems, to incentivize businesses and individuals to reduce their emissions.
Achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Accords will require a global commitment and coordination on an unprecedented scale. The treaty itself contains a number of provisions designed to promote cooperation and support among countries, such as the establishment of a global goal for reducing emissions and the creation of a financial mechanism to assist developing countries in their transition to a low-carbon economy.
According to the International Energy Agency, at the end of the day, "the success of the Paris Climate Accords will ultimately depend on the willingness and ability of countries to take ambitious and consistent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change." While progress has been slow, the treaty remains a powerful symbol of the international community's commitment to addressing this urgent global challenge.
Ban Ki-moon. (Date). "Statement on the Paris Climate Agreement". United Nations. https://www.un.org/press/en/2015/sgsm17046.doc.htm
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (Date). "Summary for Policymakers". In Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/ipcc_wg3_ar5_summary-for-policymakers.pdf
International Energy Agency. (Date). "Global Energy and CO2 Status Report". https://www.iea.org/reports/global-energy-and-co2-status-report