How and when will the Paris Agreement come into force? What is the difference between adoption, approval, ratification, acceptance and accession? What does it commit countries to?
The Agreement sets out a favourable path for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but some details need to be ironed out in order for it to be implemented effectively. Below we discuss some of the events and processes that will take place in the coming weeks and which are necessary for the Paris Agreement to come into force:
The Paris Agreement: adoption, approval, ratification, accession,…
The agreement was adopted by 196 Parties (195 countries and EU) at the Paris climate summit in December 2015 (COP21). Following adoption, each state, depending on its legal system, must engage in an internal debate in order to decide to ratify, approve or accede to the Agreement within the established period, which is between 22 April 2016 and 22 April 2017.
Fiji was the first country in the world to ratify the Paris Agreement and it will sign it within that period. Its Parliament adopted the decision on 12 February, undertaking to generate 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.
The Agreement has not yet come into force; it will do so when …
… at least 55 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that represent at least 55% of total GHG emissions have ratified, accepted, approved or acceded to it. The Kyoto Protocol took nine years to achieve the necessary ratifications to come into force; to avoid such a lengthy delay, the deadline for the Paris Agreement has been set for April 2017.
We cannot predict when it will come into force, but we do know that it would be very difficult to achieve the 55% threshold of total GHG emissions unless it is ratified by at least one of the big emitters: China, United States, the European Union and Russia.
In order to ratify the Agreement, it is necessary to announce the commitment
Prior to ratification, countries must announce their emission reduction plans, which, in UN jargon, are called Nationally Determined Contributions – NDC (formerly INDC, the "I" standing for "intended"). Those parties that have already done so have the opportunity to present a new, more ambitious contribution.
In 2018, through the "facilitating dialogue", the Parties will collectively examine the global contribution to reducing emissions in order to determine the degree of progress towards the goal of keeping the increase in the world's average temperature well below 2°C with respect to preindustrial levels, and continuing efforts to limit that increase to 1.5°C. Subsequently, there will be a global stocktake in 2023 and every five years thereafter in order to adjust contributions to the final target.
In short, the Paris Agreement adopted in 2015 needs to be ratified by all the Parties by April 2017. By then we may have a more accurate picture of all countries' emission reduction plans and their importance for limiting global warming. However, in the much nearer term, on 22 April at the UN headquarters in New York, we will have a first impression during the Paris Treaty signing ceremony, at which Acciona will be present.
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