Orissa Feeney | Guide To The Paris Agreement
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Guide To The Paris Agreement

Guide To The Paris Agreement

Since Mr Trump`s announcement, US envoys have continued to participate – as planned – in UN climate negotiations in order to shore up the details of the deal. Meanwhile, thousands of leaders across the country have stepped in to fill the void created by the lack of federal climate leadership, reflecting the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans who support the Paris Agreement. Among city and state officials, business leaders, universities, and individuals, there has been a wave of participation in initiatives such as America`s Pledge, the U.S. Climate Alliance, We Are Still In, and the American Cities Climate Challenge. Complementary and sometimes intersecting movements aim to deepen and accelerate efforts to combat climate change at local, regional and national levels. Each of these efforts focuses on achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, despite Trump`s attempts to steer the country in the opposite direction. Recognizing that many developing countries and small island states that have contributed the least to climate change are most likely to suffer the consequences, the Paris Agreement contains a plan for developed countries – and others that “are able to do so” – to continue to provide financial resources to help developing countries mitigate and increase their resilience to climate change. The agreement builds on the financial commitments of the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, which aimed to scale public and private climate finance for developing countries to $100 billion a year by 2020. (To put that in perspective, global military spending amounted to about $1.7 trillion in 2017 alone, more than a third of which came from the United States.) The Copenhagen Pact also created the Green Climate Fund to mobilize transformative financial funds with targeted public dollars.

The Paris Agreement expected the world to set a higher annual target by 2025 to build on the $100 billion target for 2020 and put in place mechanisms to achieve that scale. The solution: an autonomous section of the Paris Agreement, Article 8, deals with loss and damage, as desired by countries at climate risk. This section lists ways in which developed countries could help developing countries at climate risk: President Obama was able, through executive action, to formally integrate the United States into the international agreement, because he did not impose new legal obligations on the country. The United States already has a number of instruments in its books, in line with laws already passed by Congress, to reduce carbon pollution. The country formally acceded to the agreement in September 2016, after presenting its proposal for participation. The Paris Agreement can only enter into force if at least 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions have formally acceded to it. This was done on October 5, 2016 and the agreement entered into force 30 days later on November 4, 2016. In fact, research clearly shows that the cost of climate inaction far outweighs the cost of reducing carbon pollution. A recent study suggests that if the U.S. fails to meet its Paris climate goals, it could cost the economy up to $6 trillion in the coming decades.

A global failure to comply with the DND currently set out in the agreement could reduce global GDP by more than 25% by the end of the century. Meanwhile, another study estimates that achieving – or even exceeding – that the Paris targets could be very beneficial on a global scale by investing in infrastructure in clean energy and energy efficiency, to the amount of about $19 trillion. The solution: Article 14 of the Paris Agreement deals with both the state of play and ratchets. She announces that the first inventory will take place in 2023 and then every five years, and that countries should “update and improve” individual plans at these and future meetings. . . .

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