126.96.36.199 Global Initiatives on Climate Change
Countries have agreed to work together in global initiatives on climate change, to set targets and monitor progress in combating it
Most countries have committed to trying to reduce global warming. A BBC article, COP21: What does the Paris climate agreement mean for me?, explains the significance of targets agreed in 2015. (The abbreviation COP21 refers to the fact that the agreement was reached at the 21st “Conference of the Parties” participating in the negotiations). A website is maintained to give a Past conferences overview.
The briefing from COP21 was published as The Paris Agreement: Summary:
“On 12 December 2015, 196 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Accord, a new legally-binding framework for an internationally coordinated effort to tackle climate change.”
“The Agreement establishes a global warming goal of well below 2°C on pre-industrial averages” and “all Parties to the Paris Accord will need to make profound changes to their economies”. Countries will each make their own plans, which take account of their different situations, and will offer their “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) to the UN.
It is intended that the NDCs will be progressively tightened and that they can be traded. This gives a flexible, but legally binding, framework of objectives for global initiatives on climate change. Its lack of rigidity makes it more likely to succeed than the firm targets which were set by the earlier Kyoto Protocol, and it keeps up the international pressure on politicians to meet their promises. The UNFCCC operates a newsroom to publish its progress.
Progress has been patchy:
● As described previously (188.8.131.52), climate change policy is hotly disputed in America. In June 2017, the BBC reported Paris climate deal: Dismay as Trump signals exit from accord – fulfilling his election pledge. This will reduce the accord’s effectiveness.
● Parts of America will nonetheless try to meet their targets without federal support: as Medium.com reported, on 1 June 2017, 407 US Climate Mayors commit to adopt, honor and uphold Paris Climate Agreement goals. They were “representing 70 million Americans” and their statement ended by saying “The world cannot wait — and neither will we”. And the Democrat platform in the 2020 election included the objective of Combating The Climate Crisis And Pursuing Environmental Justice.
● The Five key takeaways from COP27 in Egypt, in November 2022, included “A new funding arrangement on loss and damage – a pooled fund for countries most affected by climate change”, which is a positive development.
● Unfortunately, “the cover text failed to include a reference to the phasing out of all fossil fuels, seen as a necessary advance on last year’s decision to phase down the use of coal”. This was probably due to the fact that “Attendees connected to the oil and gas industry were everywhere. Some 636 were part of country delegations and trade teams.”
Governments try to enforce compliance with targets if they are seriously trying to reduce carbon emissions. In January 2021, for example, it was reported that Volkswagen faces EU fine for missing 2020 emissions targets. It would probably be more effective, though, if companies were more concerned about reputational damage than the fines.
This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books. An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/6754.htm.