Climate Change

Paris Agreement at 8: Progress, challenges and road to COP28

Innovation, renewable energy, and sustainable practises can help COP28 create a resilient, low-carbon future

By Sneha Shahi
Published: Wednesday 01 November 2023
The Paris Agreement was adopted by 196 Parties at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, France, on 12 December 2015. Photo: Wikimedia Commons__

The Paris Agreement, established in 2015, was a landmark international agreement aimed at combating climate change. It set out a global framework to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The agreement also aims to strengthen the ability of countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change and to support developing countries in their climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

The Paris Agreement, now in its eighth year, has undoubtedly witnessed significant trends of progress and faced persisting challenges along its journey. As we prepare for the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, it is necessary that we evaluate the journey so far and the way forward and shed light on the achievements and implementation challenges since its inception. 

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One key achievement was the increased commitment from countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Under the agreement, each country is required to submit nationally determined contributions (NDCs), outlining their emission reduction targets. These targets are reviewed every five years, with the aim of increasing ambition over time. 

Many countries have already updated their NDCs to reflect more ambitious targets. As we move towards 2030 targets, a grounded approach for the implementation of policies and verified indicators to assess progress needs to be discussed. Ensuring that the promised financial support is delivered in a transparent and predictable manner is a challenge that needs to be addressed.

Ensuring that technology is accessible, affordable, and transferable is essential for fulfilling the global cooperation of NDCs. However, challenges persist with the transfer of knowledge for building the capacities of marginalised communities in developing and underdeveloped nations. 

Community participation in local and national negotiations builds capacity for achieving collective action. Capacity-building initiatives are a crucial step to address socio-economic and political gaps and enable developing countries to fully participate in global efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Additionally, technology transfer plays a vital role in supporting developing countries in their transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient economies.

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The Paris Agreement was a benchmark for highlighting the importance of addressing the impacts of global temperature rise leading to climatic extremes and its impacts on vulnerable nations, communities and ecosystems. This led to mobilising financial support for adaptation and resilience-building in regions that are most affected by climate change, such as small island developing states and least developed countries. 

It is imperative to prioritise the needs of these communities and ensure that they have the necessary resources and support to adapt to climate change impacts. Translating the scientific consensus into actionable policies will be crucial to addressing the urgent environmental concerns that continue to escalate. By fostering innovation, investing in renewable energy sources, and promoting sustainable practices, COP28 can pave the way for a resilient and low-carbon future. 

Looking ahead to COP28, there are several key areas that need to be addressed. Firstly, the review of countries’ NDCs is crucial to ensure that they are aligned with the overarching goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This requires countries to enhance their ambition and take more stringent measures to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. 

Additionally, the issue of climate finance needs to be addressed with legally binding targets to ensure that developing countries receive the necessary support to implement their climate change plans. The transparency of climate finance flows and the mobilisation of additional resources are important considerations in this regard to support the global goal of mitigating climate change impacts.

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In conclusion, the Paris Agreement has provided a global framework for combating climate change. While progress has been made, challenges remain in areas such as climate finance, capacity building, and technology transfer. The agreements and discussions need to pave the way for innovation, inclusion and a resilient world. With a renewed commitment to climate action, we can rewrite the narrative and shape a world where environmental security and social equity intertwine harmoniously. 

The road to COP28 has not been easy; accelerated emissions in the past couple of decades and COVID-19 have jolted progress, but countries continue to achieve implementation of their NDCs. As we approach COP28, it is essential that Parties to the convention work together to ensure the delivery of climate finance commitments and support vulnerable communities in adapting to climate change. By addressing these challenges and working together, we can strive towards a sustainable and resilient future for all.

Sneha Shahi is a PhD Student at ATREE, who is currently part of the Women Climate Collective, a community seeking to increase the representation of women’s voices and perspectives in the climate conversation

Views expressed are the author’s own and don’t necessarily reflect those of Down To Earth

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