Editor-in-Chief Elisabeth Lisican showcases a handful of features to read in the April 2017 issue of Water & Wastes Digest.
The agreement aims to keep temperature rise below 2°C
On Dec. 12, 2015 in Paris, 195 nations reached an agreement to combat climate change and unleash actions and investment toward a low carbon, resilient and sustainable future. The Paris Agreement for the first time brings all nations into a common cause based on their historic, current and future responsibilities.
The universal agreement’s main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2°C and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The 1.5°C limit is a safer defense line against the worst impacts of a changing climate. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability to deal with the impacts of climate change.
To reach these goals, appropriate financial flows will be put in place, thus making stronger action by vulnerable and developing countries possible, in line with their own national objectives.
“The Paris Agreement allows each delegation and group of countries to go back home with their heads held high. Our collective effort is worth more than the sum of our individual effort. Our responsibility to history is immense,” said Laurent Fabius, president of the United Nations (UN) climate change conference (COP21) and French Foreign Minister.
The Paris Agreement and the outcomes of COP21 cover all the areas identified as essential for a landmark conclusion:
As well as setting a long-term direction, countries will peak their emissions as soon as possible and continue to submit national climate action plans that detail their future objectives to address climate change. This builds on the momentum of the effort that has so far seen 188 countries contribute climate action plans to the new agreement, which will slow the pace of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The new agreement also establishes the principle that future national plans will be no less ambitious than existing ones, which means these 188 climate action plans provide a firm floor and foundation for higher ambition. Countries will submit updated climate plans—called nationally determined contributions (NDCs)—every five years, thereby steadily increasing their ambition in the long-term.
Climate action will also be taken before 2020. Countries will continue to engage in a process on mitigation opportunities and will put added focus on adaptation opportunities. Additionally, they will work to define a clear roadmap on ratcheting up climate finance to $100 billion by 2020
The agreement’s transparency and accounting system will provide clarity on countries’ implementation efforts, with flexibility for countries’ differing capabilities.
The Paris Agreement underwrites adequate support to developing nations and establishes a global goal to significantly strengthen adaptation to climate change through support and international cooperation. The already broad and ambitious efforts of developing countries to build their own clean, climate- resilient futures will be supported by scaled-up finance from developed countries and voluntary contributions from other countries.
Governments decided that they will work to define a clear roadmap on ratcheting up climate finance to $100 billion by 2020 while also before 2025 setting a new goal on the provision of finance from the $100 billion floor.
International cooperation on climate-safe technologies and building capacity in the developing world to address climate change are also significantly strengthened under the new agreement.
Following the adoption of the Paris Agreement by the COP (Conference of the Parties), it will be deposited at the UN in New York and be opened for one year for signature on April 22, 2016—Mother Earth Day.
The agreement will enter into force after 55 countries that account for at least 55% of global emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification.