Key points for the climate change angeda in 2016

Key points for the climate change angeda in 2016

A landmark agreement has been reached by 196 countries on tackling climate change for the first time in history. The agreement and a companion decision by the parties were the key outcomes of the conference, known as the 21st session of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference (“COP 21”). The agreement reflects a flexible approach to achieve a broad participation with top-down rules, to promote accountability and ambition.

Key elements from the agreement and the accompanying COP decision are as follows:

Legal Character
The agreement is a treaty under international law but only certain provisions are legally binding.

Many provisions of the agreement establish common commitments while allowing flexibility to accommodate different national capacities and circumstances either through self-differentiation, as implicit in the concept of “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs).

Long Term Goal
The agreement confirms the goal of keeping average warming below 2 degrees Celsius, while also urging parties to “pursue efforts” to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The agreement sets out two long term emission goals. The first goal is peaking of emissions as soon as possible and secondly, a goal of net greenhouse gas neutrality in the second half of this century. In regards to countries’ individual mitigation efforts, the agreement prescribes binding procedural commitments: to “prepare, communicate and maintain” an NDC; to provide information necessary for clarity and transparency; and to communicate a new NDC every five years. It also sets the expectation that each successive NDC will “represent a progression” beyond the previous one and reflect a party’s “highest possible ambition”.

Carbon Markets
The agreement recognizes that parties may use “internationally transferred mitigation outcomes” to implement their NDCs. It requires that parties engaging in such transfers ensure the “avoidance of double counting”. Moreover, the agreement establishes a new mechanism to succeed the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, which generates tradable emission offsets.

Stocktake/Successive NDCs
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 and it will take place in 2023. The second process is the submission by parties of new NDCs, “informed by the outcomes of the global stocktake.”

The agreement sets out a new transparency system with common binding commitments for all parties and “built-in flexibility” to accommodate varying national capacities.

The agreement creates a new mechanism by establishing a committee of experts to “facilitate implementation” and “promote compliance.” The mechanism is to be “facilitative” in nature and operate in a “non-adversarial and non-punitive” manner. It will report annually to the COP.

The agreement commits developed countries to provide finance for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. “Other” parties are “encouraged” to provide such support “voluntarily.” The COP decision extends the current goal of mobilizing $100 billion a year in support by 2020 through 2025, with a new, higher goal to be set for the period after 2025.

The agreement establishes a “global goal” on adaption of “enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change”. This is linked to temperature goal. It binds countries to engage in an adaption planning process and that countries should “submit and update periodically” adaption communications.

Loss and Damage
A committee of experts are charged with developing approaches to help vulnerable countries cope with unavoidable impacts, including extreme weather events and slow-onset events such as sea-level rise. Potential approaches include early warning systems and risk insurance. However, the loss and damage provision “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation.”

Next Steps
The agreement will be open for signature on 22 April 2016. In order to become a party to the agreement, a country must then express it consent to be bound through a formal process of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession. The agreement establishes a “double trigger” for entry-into-force: it requires approval by at least 55 countries accounting for at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.


Source: Eversheds

Data: January 2016


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