What Is the Paris Climate Change Agreement

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The Paris Climate Change Agreement is a legally binding international treaty that was adopted by 196 countries in December 2015, during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) held in Paris, France. The goal of the agreement is to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, with a long-term objective of keeping warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Paris Climate Change Agreement replaces the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted in 1997 but only covered developed countries and did not include the United States. Under the Paris Agreement, all countries are required to submit plans (known as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs) to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, which cause global warming. The NDCs are meant to be updated and strengthened over time, with a goal of reaching net-zero emissions by the second half of this century.

One of the main features of the Paris Climate Change Agreement is its transparency and accountability mechanisms. Countries are required to regularly report on their emissions and progress toward their NDCs, and a global stocktake is scheduled to occur every five years to assess the collective progress toward the goals of the agreement.

The Paris Climate Change Agreement also includes provisions for financial assistance to developing countries, which are often the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Developed countries are required to provide financial resources to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change, and to support technology transfer and capacity-building efforts.

The Paris Climate Change Agreement has been widely celebrated as a historic achievement in global cooperation on climate change. However, it has also faced criticism for being too weak and not ambitious enough, particularly in light of the latest scientific evidence on the urgent need to limit global warming. Some countries, including the United States under the Trump administration, have also withdrawn from the agreement or signaled their intention to do so.

Overall, the Paris Climate Change Agreement represents a major step forward in addressing the global challenge of climate change. Its success will depend on strong political will and collective action from all countries, as well as continued efforts to strengthen and improve the agreement over time.