Climate Change

Sunita Narain highlights hits and misses of Paris climate deal

The agreement has come after an intense two weeks of negotiations and represents a lot of compromises made, particularly by developing countries  

By Sunita Narain
Last Updated: Tuesday 22 December 2015


The much-awaited Paris Agreement on climate change was adopted by all members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on Saturday. The Agreement will now be open for ratification by each member nation from April 2016 onwards. Some highlights from the draft text:

Achievements for developing countries

  • To get the agreement under United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); and a specific mention of the fact that this agreement will be guided by principles, including the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) in the light of national circumstances
  • The implementation of the Agreement will reflect equity and CBDR
  • Enhanced support will allow for enhanced level of ambition for developing Parties
  • While developed countries take absolute economy-wide emission reduction targets; developing countries will enhance mitigation efforts but are encouraged to move towards economy-wide reduction in the light of national circumstances
  • Climate justice has been noted as important for some concepts
  • Recognition of the need for sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption and production with developed countries Parties taking the lead to address climate change
  • There is differentiation in finance – developed country Parties are required to provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties for mitigation and adaptation
  • Global stocktake will be done in light of equity and the best available science

Mitigation, review and reporting get rid of ‘differentiation’

  • There is no difference now between Parties that are required to undertake and communicate ambitious action; the efforts of all Parties will represent a progression over time.
  • All Parties have to report Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs every five years
  • There is no differentiation in reporting, inventory of greenhouse gases and progress made in implementation of INDCs (only words of flexibility provided but not defined).
  • There is no differentiation in the measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) provision. It is universal and exists in the form of a technical expert review on reporting and progress. Only says that for all it will be facilitative, non-punitive and respectful of national sovereignty
  • The stocktake is universal – for aggregate actions – and will happen in 2023 and every five years henceforth.


  • Developed countries shall provide funds for mitigation and adaptation – but the floor of US $100 billion has been removed from the Agreement. It still exists in the decision.
  • Other parties are encouraged to provide such support voluntarily

Loss and Damage

  • A mechanism is established but the decision says this will not involve or provide basis for compensation or liability

Trading mechanism created

  • Market mechanism is established and this is worse because now we have legal commitment to reduce emissions (through INDCs) and a commitment to enhance actions. Now with trading mechanism, developed countries will be allowed to buy cheap emission reduction options, which leaves the developing countries with even less options to reduce. So, we are taking on double work – we reduce to account for our INDC and we reduce to meet their obligations under their INDC.

Ambition and carbon budget

There will be ratcheting up without principle of fair use of carbon budget established. As per the decisions:

  • In 2018, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on 1.5 degrees Celsius will be done, which will clearly establish the need for more ambitious action
  • In 2018, a facilitative dialogue will review collective
  • In 2020, there will be huge pressure on us to revise our INDCs
  • Then as the text says, by 2025, massive enhancement of ambition will be required – this recognises that the carbon budget will be exhausted
  • By 2025, no differentiation will exist as actions of developed and developing countries will have to be enhanced, given the need to keep the world below 1.5 degree Celsius
  • In 2020 and then again in 2025, all countries will be required to revise and update INDCs based on this new science. By then, the global carbon budget would have been appropriated
  • Without a clear reference to the carbon budget, the actions to progressively enhance ambition will fall on all countries and could shift the burden to developing countries

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  • Dear All,
    It's OK, But ..... . The existing Water and Sanitation status and its’ impact on climate and environment is neither discussed not emphasized during the Discussion. Inadequate Toilets, use of Insanitary Toilets, Issues out of Waste (both solid and liquid) and inadequate treatment options contribute heavily to cause contamination of water bodies (both surface and groundwater) and our Environment and thereby impacts human and wild lives. Different hostile weather conditions like Drought, Flood, Stormwater flooding etc. affect our Sanitation system and Rivers and other water bodies are regularly polluted with untreated sewage.
    In fact the expectation was for a strong focus and Hope on the Climate resilience to be strengthened through proper emphasis on Water and Sanitation Issues.
    Thanks and Regards
    Nripendra Kumar Sarma
    Nagaon, Assam, India

    Posted by: Nripendra Sarma | 4 years ago | Reply
  • Excellent analysis.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP)

    Posted by: Anumakonda Jagadeesh | 4 years ago | Reply
  • What is trading mechanism ?

    Posted by: Praveenchand | 4 years ago | Reply