How much do we know about the Paris Agreement?

By Senashia Ekanayake

The Paris Agreement comes in to force today. So what does that exactly mean for us? And how much do we know about the Paris Agreement to start with?

This “enforcement” is a result following the “adoption” that took place at the 21st session of the Conference of Parties (COP21) by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Paris last year. Article 21 of this historic climate agreement wherein all 195 parties to the UNFCCC adopted states that the Agreement would enter in to force “on the thirtieth day after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval, or accession.”Prior to COP21, it was hinted that the Agreement would not come into force up until at least 2020 or rather up until countries responsible for 55% of emission levels decied to ratify the Agreement.  However, the said 55 per cent was achieved by October 05 and hence, the Agreement came into force today, November 04.

So what IS the Paris Agreement?

One of the main references to this article from the World Resources Institute blog says the following:

“The Paris Agreement was adopted on December 12, 2015 at COP21 in Paris, France by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). According to the Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties, adoption is the formal act that establishes the form and content of an agreement. By adopting the Paris Agreement, each of the Parties agreed to the text of the Paris Agreement. This does not mean that Parties to the UNFCCC automatically become Parties to the Paris Agreement.”

There are a few stages for this Paris Agreement to actually come into play:

  1. Signing: The signing of the Paris Agreement began on April 21 at the UN in New York and will be until April 22, 2017.
  2. Adoption: The Agreement was adopted on December 12 in France by the Parties to the UNFCCC
  3. Joining: The joining of the Paris Agreement varies across countries and can be completed by depositing various instruments including “ratification, acceptance or approval”. These instruments can be submitted within a year signing the Agreement, or even after through the submission of the “accession” instrument. More on how these various instruments work can be found on WRI’s website over here.

As COP22 starts in Marrakech, Morocco on November 07, one of the key priorities of the first session of the Conference is the meeting of Parties to the Paris Agreement.


World Resources Institute – Blog