The Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted at the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 in 2015.  It is a major step forward in the global climate policy agreement.  Parties to the Agreement collectively aim to:

  • collectively hold the global average temperature increase to well below 2oC above pre-industrial levels while aiming to limit it to 1.5oC (the Paris Agreement Temperature Goal);
  • increase the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, foster climate resilience, encourage the development of low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, all while not impacting on food prduction (the Global Goal on Adaptation);
  • making finance flow consistent creating a pathway to lower GHG emission and climate-resilient development thus enabling transition and transformation to take place.

It aims to ensure that parties to the Agreement peak their GHG emissions as soon as possible and then, in the second half of the 21st century, find the balance between man-made emissions and removals of those emissions by carbon sinks.  Carbon sinks are natural environments (forests, oceans, etc) that have the ability to absorb and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

The Paris Agreement entered into force in 2016 and currently, it has 191 parties who have ratified it.  Ireland ratified it in 2016.

Progress on achievement of the Paris Agreement goals will be assessed every 5 years.  The first of these will take place in 2023.  It will be informed by the Intergovernmental Policy on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th Assessment Report to be published in 2021/22.

Actions under the Paris Agreement are known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC’s).  These include commitments to reduce GHG emissions, enhance adaptation actions, finance and capacity building. Ireland contribution comes under the European Union NDCs targets and is based on the European Unions 2030 emissions reductions targets and commits to at least 30% efforts to meet the target as government by the Emissions Trading System regulations, the Effort Sharing Regulation; and the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry Regulation