The Paris Climate Agreement, or the Paris Agreement, was an agreement that was drafted during the Paris Climate Conference in 2015. This landmark environmental accord was made within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to address climate change and its negative impacts.
At the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC), representatives from 196 countries met in Le Bourget, France, and negotiated the agreement’s language. On December 12, 2015, the accord was adopted by consensus.
Summary of the Paris Climate Agreement
The Paris Agreement is a 32-page document that establishes a framework for global action climate change.
The agreement aims to:
- Limit global temperature increase by reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- Provide a framework for transparency, accountability, and achievement of more ambitious targets.
- Mobilize support for climate change mitigation and adaptation in developing nations.
The Paris Agreement is important because climate change is a threat to the environment and all of humanity.
- Global warming threatens global weather patterns and can exacerbate natural disasters.
- Climate change endangers human health.
- Global warming can only be mitigated by a collective global action.
Hotter temperatures alter global weather patterns, leading to droughts, heatwaves, wildfires, floods, and fierce storms such as hurricanes. When hotter temperatures melt ice caps, glaciers, and permafrost, it causes rising sea levels and coastal erosion. Higher temperatures, extreme weather events, and rising sea levels disturb ecosystems and their migration patterns and life cycles.
Climate change jeopardizes our air, water, and food; spreads disease; and threatens our safety. Every year, wildfires force tens of thousands of people to flee their homes. Millions of acres are destroyed by the flames, taking many families’ homes with them. Climate change means an increase in pollution, which contributes directly to respiratory disease and cardiovascular deaths.
The general scientific view is that any rise in global temperatures of more than 2 degrees Celsius would be catastrophic for the Earth— causing severe natural disasters, a melted Arctic, and possible mass extinctions. When the entire planet is at risk, it takes the whole world to combat climate change. The agreement’s ultimate goal is capping the global warming rise this century to 1.5 degrees Celsius. While the 0.5-degree difference may not seem like a lot, it would dramatically impact low-lying nations and coral reefs.
Cost of the Paris Agreement
Research has shown that the cost of inaction outweighs the cost of reducing carbon pollution. While President Trump claimed that the Paris Agreement would cost the U.S. economy $3 trillion by 2040 and 2.7 million jobs by 2025. However, one study suggest that the U.S. would lose as much as $6 trillion in the coming decades if it didn’t meet its Paris climate goals. Additionally, global GDP would decline by 25% if the world did not meet the goals laid out in the agreement.
Additionally, the clean energy sector in the United States employs about 3 million workers— about 14 times that of the oil, gas, coal, and other fossil fuel industry employment. Further investments into clean, renewable energy industries could create more than 500,000 jobs by 2030.
Paris Climate Agreement Countries
A consensus among world leaders is rare, but with the Paris Agreement, leaders from around the world collectively agreed that climate change is driven by human behavior.
The Paris Climate Agreement was negotiated at the UNFCCC by representatives of 196 countries and was adopted by consensus on December 12, 2015. The accord was signed on April 22, 2016, and became effective as of November 4, 2016.
As of February 2020, all UNFCC members have signed the agreement, and 189 have become parties to it. The signatories that did not become parties are: