REASONS FOR OPTIMISM: KEY CONTRIBUTIONS SINCE 2015 ON THE ROAD TO IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PARIS AGREEMENT.
Climate change can be defined as a change in a region’s weather and climate. Global climate is one of the major concerns in the world today (Carle, 2015). It has affected the environmental stability and also increased the temperatures by almost 5 degrees Celsius. This has led to the climate issue becoming a subject for considerable debate globally. Climate change leads to adverse and irreversible impacts on the environment and the ecosystem as a whole (Bergquist & Warshaw, 2019). This threat is mostly caused by human activities and unfortunately affects human health due to air pollution, disease outbreaks and food scarcity. Climate has therefore created a global concern resulting in organizations and intergovernmental committees deciding to come together to tackle the issue of climate meant to protect the planet (Yilmaz & Can, 2019).
Climate impacts heavily on the global economy, which is the second common concern from climate (Berkhout, Hertin & Jordan, 2002). Economic instability continues to be a threat as a result of global warming. This has resulted in a decrease in the percentage of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Since 1980, global warming has cost the US over 1.6 trillion dollars (Nordhaus, 2007). More so, Munich reinsurance firm blamed weather and climate changes for the California wildfires that have brought losses of 24 billion dollars. Industries, especially those related to natural resources such as forestry, fisheries, and agriculture face higher risks and if temperature rises are not controlled, the industries will continue to experience a decline.
Since 2000, natural disasters such as floods have led to a loss of over 23 million dollars. Such natural calamities for example hurricanes affect a large population of people leaving them in poverty as it destroys all of their properties (Ibarraran et al., 2009). As the world continues to experience high-temperature rises, food prices continue to rise due to droughts. Studies show that measures taken to solve the issue of climate change are therefore a golden opportunity for the growth of sustainable economic growth.
The Paris agreement was a deal made by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2015 in an attempt to balance the threatening global dangerous climate change as well as to adapt to its effects (Schleussner et al., 2016, 827-835). The agreement aimed at reinforcing the capability of nations to cope with the effects of climate change. It required that all the member countries involved steadily and constantly report on their emissions of greenhouse gas and their implementation strategies to evaluate the collaborative process towards accomplishing the aim of their agreement. The agreement was the second agreement adopted universally for climate change with about 190 member states after the Kyoto protocol (Falkner, 2016, 1107-1125).
The plan to come up with an agreement arose due to climate changes that were happening in every country of every continent negatively impacting the lives and the national economies (United Nations Environment Programme (2019). Nations were experiencing severe changes in climate such as high rising sea levels, extreme phenomena, and drastic weather changes. At the moment, the temperatures were at their extreme ever in the history of climate change and were projected to rise over 3 degrees over the years (New et al., 2011). The agreement targeted working towards restricting the global temperature rise to rise above 2 degrees. Human activities such as greenhouse gas emissions and emission of other effluents were the major causes for the major climate rise and it would continue to rise if no actions were taken.
According to Bodansky, (2016, 288-319), Certain measures were discussed in the meeting that would help mitigate the emissions. The following measures were agreed: Aiming to restrict the increase of climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius (Hulme, 2016, 222-224). This level of temperature rises if attained would remarkably decrease the effects of climate change. The second measure was developing a long-run goal that would restrict the temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius at industrial area levels. The third measure was to take on rapid emission reductions that scientifically existed and finally, the plan needed to recognize and acknowledge the fact that developing countries would take longer in achieving this goal. These tracks were to be met between the year of adoption and 2030 (Zhou et al., 2019).
This article will focus on evaluating and tracking the achievements that the agreement has made in terms of analyzing the climate change records as well as evaluating the international relations that have been maintained between the nation members, the challenges that it has faced since its adoption and its relevancy so far in creating a sustainable climatic change. The article will outline the measures that worked for and those that worked against the agreement which is done through the climate action tracker. The tracker helps keep track of what each of the countries is doing to restrict the warming of the climate and if they are reaching their set targets (Peters, 2017, 118).
KEYWORDS: The Paris agreement, National Determined Contributions (INDCs), global, climate changes, international politics, environmental governance.
THE PARIS AGREEMENT
The Paris agreement focused on ensuring equality among the different national parties through various responsibilities. To achieve its goals, the agreement was committed to the following (change, UN climate, 2018):
- Ensuring there was a financial flow to sustain the climate-resilient development towards the reduction of greenhouses emissions.
- Maintaining the average temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius to curb the risks brought about by climate change.
- Increasing the adaptability of its members to the effects of climate change such that it does not affect food production.
All parties involved are required to deliver equal efforts to achieve the goals and purpose of the agreement. According to Cooper, (2016), each party’s involvement would bring progression in the long run. Each party in the convection was set to:
- Lay the ground framework, communicate and uphold consecutive contributions meant to meet the purpose. They ought to stop domestic activities that led to a negative impact on the climate (The Paris Agreement, 2020).
- Reach the lowest greenhouse emission rates as soon as possible and to reach sustainable development that eradicates poverty through ensuring rapid reductions with the use of the best available technology and science.
- Provide all the available information from the party’s conferences and decisions for transparency and clarity.
- Recognize that the support of the underdeveloped countries would lead to the overall success of this agreement (Bhave et al., 2016)
- Account for their contributions as a nation. That is, accounting for the anthropogenic activities in their nations and how they promote environmental consistency and integrity in their nations.
- Take into consideration the parties that are most affected economically by climate change impacts (Kinley, 2017).
- Take responsibility for their nation’s emission levels.
- Communicate about the long-term development strategies towards the reduction of greenhouse emissions.
- Enhance the participation and contribution of both the public and the private sectors in the implementation of the agreement’s goals.
- Strengthening of the involved sectors by providing scientific knowledge and past researches that help in the implementation and decision making.
The parties agreed that climate change was influenced by human behavior (Rogelj et al., 2016). The Paris agreement was set to eradicate and control these problems by reaching an agreement. The importance of the Paris agreement is:
- It was meant to reduce global warming caused by human activities such as the release of carbon dioxide gases, methane gases, and nitrous gases.
- It improves the climate systems that are activated by global warming.
The hot temperature on land and sea alter weather patterns causing risky dangers such as floods, droughts, storms, wildfires, failed crops and hurricanes (Garcia, 2016)
- It protects the general human health (Vandyck, 2018).
Varying weather patterns affect water sources. For example, when there are floods. This leads to an increase in cases of waterborne and airborne diseases. The majority of the world’s natural disasters are associated with weather. Moreover, such disasters result in mass extinctions.
To minimize such major challenges and changes in the environment affecting the world, the Paris agreement undertook a global action set to reduces dramatic rises of temperatures.
THE PARIS AGREEMENT AS AN ACHIEVEMENT IN TERMS OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, UN HISTORY, MULTILATERALISM, ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY/ POLITICS.
The agreement has displayed a significant accomplishment in the last five years for international politics, the global environment and the global economy (Oberthur and Groen, 2018). This agreement is so far the largest political global convection ever formed against adverse climate changes replacing the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 an international law that advocated for global emissions reduction (Protocol, 1997). The agreement incorporated a self-determined and a more inclusive approach (Wong, 2015). The following are the achievements that have so far been achieved by the convection.
- Regular cycles of the parties’ contribution.
The agreement provides regular reviews of the progress of the different parties involved. Each party must revise its national targets and provide results of the nationally determined contributions after every 5 years (Hood and Soo, 2017). This mechanism has helped in raising ambitions among the parties as they all strive to meet their targets. It is also crucial in achieving the long-term goal of the agreement. The process provides accounting for each year’s progress.
- It sets a future and long-term goal.
To avert disastrous climatic changes in the future by limiting the temperature rises to below 2 degrees Celsius, the agreement has set a goal for individual party commitments (UNFCCC, 2019). While each party handles their commitments differently, they all jointly collaborated towards the same purpose and supported the developing countries to reach their goals. The severity of the countries to be affected was the main reason for this disputable issue at the COP21 (Hoad, 2015)
- It brought self-differentiation between the developed countries and the underdeveloped countries/ developing countries.
The different parties are all defined through their national situation. This gave the different states the flexibility to step out of the agreement and also to take in their responsibilities as required by the agreement, unlike the Kyoto protocol (Kuriyama & Abe, 2018). Developed countries have the obligations and responsibilities to set strong commitments in their states as well as give adequate support to the developing countries.
- According to Pauw et al. (2018), It has created accountability, transparency and political peer pressure.
The agreement has entrenched accountability through the various articles on traceability and transparency. Transparency of the different parties has been achieved through reporting and the parties being monitored. Consequence’s measures are taken to those parties that fail to deliver and report what they had signed for. This type of transparency has brought competition as well as cooperation between the different states involved while they all attempt to overcome differentiation.
- Constant financing.
The Paris agreement offers constant financial flows for adaptation efforts in developing countries through a contribution from both the developed countries and the developing countries. The amount to be contributed by the different states is agreed on depending on the capability of the states. According to Streck, Keenlyside, and Von (2016), The states, for example, meets a target of 100 billion dollars in support of 2025 when another new goal for the agreement will be set. The developing states collectively plighted 19 billion dollars by the year 2020. This funding will be enough to support the millions that are being affected by climatic changed as well as shifting the economy towards a low greenhouse emission.
- Trees have been saved
The agreement enunciated the significant role of trees in the separation of carbon to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. This led the team to seclude finances, particularly for forest management according to article 5 of the agreement. It was named ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’(REDD+) (Alexander ,2018). This policy has motivated and encouraged developing countries to restrict deforestation. The Paris agreement has remained a synergist to the promotion of forest management globally.
HOW THE AGREEMENT STEMS FROM THE ‘UNITED NATIONS’ TRANSFORMING OUR WORLD: THE 2030 AGENDA FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The Paris Agreement was discussed in parallel to the 2030 agenda for sustainable development (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2019). While the Paris agreement was an agreement between parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in, the 2030 agenda for sustainable development was a voluntary agreement signed at the UN Sustainable Summit by the world’s leaders (Lofts et al., 2017). The two agreements were both signed in the year 2015. The tackling of climate change and its impacts is addressed in the Sustainable Development Goal 13. This goal strengthens the flexibility and adaptations of climatic hazards to all countries and attempts to fix climate changes in the 2030 agenda. Moreover, the goal has been formed in reference to the UNFCCC, identifying the Paris Agreement as the lead in the role of bargaining and negotiating on the international climate policies (Schmieg et al., 2018).
The two agreements brought about an increasingly and influential interaction known as hybrid multilateralism (Backstrand et al., 2017). According to sustainable goals development, lack of a means to mitigate and adapt measures could lead to extreme cases of poverty in the future. Climate issue transverses all the seventeen SGDs and its effect are mainly on poor countries. For the first time in history, the SGD included climate policy in the development framework. The SDGs and the NDCs overlap. In that, while the SDG strives to end hunger in its second goal, it remains a challenge for industrial agriculture during food production (Hammil and Price-Kelly, 2017). The reason, it is hard to produce healthy foods while limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases.
The climate change being a threat to the future, the SGD needed to factor in the need for adaptation of climate change in the future development plans. If environmental impacts economic growth and natural resource were to be decoupled, countries would need to have the courage in the vitality and the support of new low carbon emissions, climate flexibility, and socially stable growth parts. All these need to be successfully pursued. The SGD viewed the Paris agreement as a benefit to the people as the climate actions have their co-benefits (Janetschek et al., 2019) such as; improved quality drinking water, reduction in air pollution, poverty reduction, increase employment, diversification of the economy and collaboration between mitigation and adaptation measures and particularly in areas relating to food security. That is; the agricultural and forestry area.
One of the indispensable commitments of sustainable development goals is ‘leaving no one behind (Donell, Ida & Malhotra, 2018).’ They, therefore, found it necessary to link it to the climate policies of the Paris agreement. The reason, climate impacts mainly on the poorest or the most vulnerable countries and the parties in the Paris agreement had signed to help uplift the developing countries. This could be achieved through, targeting the poor or the vulnerable groups to work in the available job opportunities such as in the renewable energy industry. Governments are working together to achieve an alignment between the two agreements.
However, linking the two has posed a challenge to the counties. The reason, the two agreements have a different history, different policies and different actors (Gomez, 2018) For example, in most countries, climate change policies are steered by the Ministry of Environment while the Sustainable Development Goals are steered by the National governments like the cabinet-level institutions. Lack of coordination between the two authorities reduce the linkages between the two agreements and their ability to function together (Climate and SDGSs, 2019).
GENERAL GOVERNANCE OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON A GLOBAL LEVEL
According to Coen & Pegram (2017), climate governance refers to the mechanism and the response measures that are undertaken towards mitigating and adapting the impacts of the changing climate. Climate has developed to be a global political agenda since it has attracted attention from so many fields. Governments have come up with many policies on climate change to fight the consequences brought by the emission of greenhouse gases. Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) have been formed to try and solve the issue of climate (Churchill & Ulfstein, 2000). The first convention regarding climate change was the Kyoto convention of 1997 and it has steadily evolved to its climax in the Paris agreement of 2015. Government authorities have a play in designating authors and accrediting texts. Such governmental assessments have a great impact on the global arbitration process.
The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), a United Nations body that assesses science and makes policies related to climate change, has issued four reports in depth (Smith et al., 2009). The reports have studied any available scientific pieces of evidence on the causes and the effects of climate change. the report has also outlined various policy options that can help cope with or solve the problem. The intergovernmental panel has set goals for its efforts to help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Their three main goals are:
- To find out how much greenhouse emissions should be reduced and the duration it should take (IPCC, 2019).
- To analyze the total cost for the efforts needed to meet their purpose and how the cost should be shared between the countries, in the long run, putting into consideration the developing countries.
- To investigate how much needs to be spent on the adaptability and who is supposed to pay for it (Griggs & Noguer, 2002).
Climate governance is identified in three different perspectives: multi-actor, embedded and multi-scale. According to Deudeurwaerdere et al. (2010), multi-actor refers to the disintegrated roles of both the state and the non-state actors. In this type of governance, the uncertain roles of the different actors raise indefiniteness concerning their corresponding roles in the purview of climate governance. The non-state actors play a significant role in building positions that are created by the National governments concerning the Multilateral Environmental Agreements (Forsyth, 2009). That is the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris agreement. These multi actors include communities, business people, government influencers and scientists. Previously, before the 1990s, the role of these actors was considered inherent and their roles did not influence the decision made by the governments. However, their roles have been realized as the private actors come up to offer new means that seek to solve the impacts of climate change.
According to Falconbridge (2008), embedded refers to the association of the non-state members in climate governance. Their association is a contemplation of the intensely impacted economic and social description of the many processes leading to emissions of greenhouse gases. Solving the issue of impacts of climate change is aggravated and complicated by the much-involving processes that are involved with the emission of greenhouse gases (Climate Governance In Kenya, 2019).
Multiscale refers to the different spaces and levels that climate governance has executed its policies. These levels include local, regional, national and supranational scales (Bringezu et al., 2016). The interplay between these realms has raised a lot of questions about where the jurisdiction and dominance for the climate governance stretch. According to the traditional understanding, the top-down government must not be employed in the scope of climate governance. According to tradition, climate governance features a more complex scope.
THE MAIN GENERAL CHALLENGES AND POTENTIAL OBSTACLES TO IMPLEMENTATION OF PARIS AGREEMENT
If the goals of the Paris agreement are to be met, several challenges have to be overcome by the involved parties. These challenges affect the implementation of the agreement
- Cross-cutting issues (Weimann & Patel, 2017) – Several items are overlaying each other in the agenda list. Such items are; information on the nationally determined contributions, the whole stock takes globally and the transparency framework. This leads to delays in the progress of the implementation as the discussion of one strand is extended to all the other strands. This means that critical coordination between the items should be applied and maintained.
- Time restraint- The challenge was already experienced back in 2018 and continues to be experienced. By 2018, the work program for Paris ought to have been completed. However, it was not completed on time and therefore the negotiation time was limited (Zihua, Voigt & Werksman, 2019). This was due to different ideas during the negotiations which urged that negotiations should be guided.
- The inclusion of non-state stakeholders- The inclusion of the non-state members leads to probable warfare of interest for example among the non-governmental organizations.
- Announcement of the US to withdraw from the Paris agreement- The US on 1st June if 2017 announced that it would withdraw from the agreement (Kim & Cooke, 2018). With the US offering the highest financial support in the Paris agreement, other parties are faced with fear. The reason, this will mean that they have to take higher financial burdens and especially the developing countries. However, other stronger parties in the developing countries have taken advantage of this situation and see it as an opportunity to increase their leadership power.
- Some parties/states are unwilling to approve the agreement- Parties such as Iran, the Russian Federation, and Turkey were unwilling to approve the agreement as per 25th September 2017. According to De moor (2001), In the case where the larger parties such as Iran and the Russian federation refuse to put in their efforts, this may demoralize the smaller parties or the developing countries making it harder for the agreement to reach its goals.
- Financial constraints – The financial support from the developing countries is still below the expectations of the agreement. Most of these countries are not able to provide adequate funds to implement the mitigation and adaptation to ensure climate development and are therefore encountering difficulty in developing their National Adaptation Plans, (NAPs). The party will face challenges especially after the US has withdrawn from the party (Saad, 2018). This may lead to diminishing mitigation and adaptation for climate change efforts in developing countries.
- Division of the parties- Some of the developing countries are advocating for a separation of the developing parties from the already developed parties (Voigt & Ferreira, 2016). This poses the agreement at high risk. The reason, the development for the developing countries is likely to water down after the division due to lack of enough financial support.
- Perceived imbalance- There is an imbalanced focus between mitigation efforts and adaptation efforts especially in developing countries. This imbalance delays the whole of the negotiation process.
- Lack of sufficient compliance- The party lacks proper disciplinary measures that limit the efficient implementation of the agreement. This means that the parties have limited liability for the failures to satisfy their obligations. Lack of disciplinary measure is a limiting factor in achieving the agreement’s goal of temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius. Instead, there should a fully and legally binding framework that incorporates the enforcement mechanism.
THE CHALLENGE RELATED TO GLOBAL LEADERSHIP IN FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE, NOW THAT THE USA HAS ANNOUNCED IT WILL LEAVE THE PARIS AGREEMENT (UNDER CURRENT PRESIDENT)
The trump government brought a whole change to the US environmental policy on the 1st of June of 2017. Most of these policies reversed Barrack Obama’s policies and were a huge blow to global climate governance leaving it stranded. The extensive lapse of Trump’s climate policy is illustrated in three aspects. One, withdrawal from the Paris agreement. Two, revocation of the clean energy plan which he thought was a war on America’s energy and third, revert to the past traditional policies. While China should strive to take the leadership position in the world in solving climate issues, it has also been left stranded by the withdrawal of the US (Zhang et al., 2017).
According to trump, the contract of the Paris agreement only brings the US economy more burdens. Scientists and environmentalists termed this announcement as real damage to the planet. The US, the largest greenhouse gas emitters, brought a lot of regret from all other leaders. Worse still, it is also a substantial source of technology and finances that help fight the rising temperature in the developing countries. The European commission remained hopeful that the US would leave and come back later while the Russian government thought it was hard to make any discussion on climate without the presence of the US (Chai et al., 2017). However, some leaders were negative about the announcement. For example, the speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi thought that the devastating decision was a sell of their children’s future. Al Gore, the former vice president thought that Trump’s act was a sacrifice of the planet due to greed.
Global leaders took the announcement as a betrayal to the planet. During the formation of the Paris agreement, it was designed in such a manner that it was easier to join than to leave where the US lead in holding all the countries accountable for their promises to help protect the agreement against regime changes. Bohringer & Rutherford, (2017)state that the main reason for US withdrawal was that the agreement was unfair to their economy and a burden. Trump thought that we would better follow a more realistic and practical model by using all energy technologies and all energy sources cleanly and proficiently using nuclear energy, renewable energy, and fossil fuels. He promised to turn the US to an energy world power and made an effort to dispose of a raft of pollution legislation that would cut down the cost production of coal, oil, and gas. According to trump, the US being considered as the largest world greenhouse emitter gave other large states like china a biased advantage over them by allowing them to continue increasing emissions (Bordoff, 2017).
Fortunately, approximately 3800 leaders from the US have stood up for the Paris agreement and promised to continue giving their support even after the federal government has withdrawn to face the climate crisis as one (Betsill, 2017). More so, private companies, cities, states, and non-governmental organizations have continued to turn down trump’s administration withdrawal from the Paris agreement. They have promised to also work with the Congress as well as the state legislatures to reinforce and safeguard other federal governments, state’s climate and clean energy policies.
THE EU GREEN DEAL AS AN INNOVATIVE REGIONAL PLAN IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
According to Claeys, Tagliapietra & Zachmann (2019), the European Green Deal refers to a set of policies that were initiated by the European Commission to neutralize the European climate by the end of 2050. The plan was purposed to review the existing laws on climate as well as introduce new enactments on the overall economy, farming and biodiversity. Unlike the Paris agreement that aimed for its goals after 5 years, the Green deal aimed for its goal after a period of three decades. The deal was initiated as a response to the increase in the warming climate as the years pass, the risk of extinction of some species on the planet and the pollution of oceans and forests.
They aimed at revolutionizing the European Union into an equitable and successful society with a competitive and resource-efficient economy with zero net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2015 (Guertler, Royston & Robson, 2013). It also aimed at protecting the wellbeing of its citizens from climate-related risks and impacts and improving the natural capital of the EU. The deal was inclusive, meaning it was meant for all people. This means putting people first as well as the more vulnerable regions exposed to carbonization. it advocated for the bringing together of all citizens from their different diversities nationally, regionally and local authorities.
Apart from a climate-neutral goal, the commission also tabled a new circular economy. This was is an industrial strategy aimed at reusing and recycling materials to make new products. Industries such as the cement, textiles, and steel are expected to focus their attention on this circular plan and apply it. The main objective for the circular economy plans it to create a clean making of steel using hydrogen by the year 2030. According to the EU officials, 2030 should be the last year of the investment cycle if they are to achieve a clean industry by 2050 (Dellano-Paz et al., 2015).
Another reason for the initiation of the green deal was to promote the building’s renovation. Renovation of houses is the flagship of the European Green Deal (Pettifor, Wilson & Chryssochoidis, 2015). The deal aims at doubling the rate of building renovations that are currently at 1 percent. According to the Green deal, buildings are culpable for 40 percent of the European Union’s total energy consumption. This makes the buildings one of the major contributors to emissions in Europe. The plan aims at changing the old heating technologies to new head technologies that are decarbonized. It also encouraged the importance of bringing up larger renovation projects or buildings to make it easier to pay for the insulation and the double glazing.
Another strategy to be implemented by the green deal is the farm to fork strategy. The strategy aims at creating a healthier and greener agricultural system (Haines & Scheelbeek, 2020). This will mean the reduction of the use of chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers on farms. Zero pollution is a strategy proposed at the green deal. The strategy aims at an environment (soil, air, and water) free from pollution by the year 2050. It aims at a toxic-free environment. This will affect the transport system where electric vehicles with sustainable alternative fuels are being encouraged by 2025.
The commission also proposed a transition mechanism that is just. To achieve this strategy, president Von Der Leyen suggested that they set aside 100 billion dollars for the vulnerable regions of Europe (Claeys, Tagliapietra & Zachmann, 2019). The 100 billion dollars has three uses. It is used as a just transition repository that helps in the mobilization of resources from the European’s regional policy budget, it is a European Investment Bank (EIB) funding that comes from the EU bank’s capital and finally, it is from an invest EU program with money that copes from the EIB. For the regions to effectively absorb the funds into use, technical assistance will be offered in adherence to the EU strict rules.
According to Ernest, the CEO of energy futures initiatives, for the green deal to work, a structured framework with several characteristics should be incorporated. The framework should be logical, flexible to adapt to the future changes, analytically sound and one that forms a big alliance globally (Sussman, 2019). The framework should also be able to address a larger sector of the economy and most especially the vulnerable sectors to climate mentioned earlier. That is, agriculture, transport and industries. More so, the framework should ensure a regional focus since solution to emission of low carbon depends on a specific location. The green deal framework should also promote a work force development and social equity among all its members and workers. This ensures that there is flow in the running of the deal avoiding any stranded workers or any assets and offering help to the most vulnerable regions affected by climate change (Moniz, 2019).
In support of this framework, fundamental innovations such as policies, business models and most importantly technology innovation should be incorporated (Claeys et al., 2019). Without utilization and the development of these innovations at large scale, Ernest states that the US, the biggest emitter and the world will not be in a position to reach the goal of zero carbon. With advanced technology, it is easy to remove carbon directly from the environment, efficient utilization of carbon in the air, storage of geological and biological carbon in large scales to prevent its emission to the air, manufacture of advanced low carbon fuels and advanced nuclear fission (Du & Li, 2019).
ASPECTS REGARDING WOMEN’S EQUALITY IN THE PARIS AGREEMENT NATIONAL CONTRIBUTIONS.
In the creation of climate change sustainability, gender equality or women empowerment is one of the important aspects required. According to Aguilar (2012), women are integral in helping meet global climate targets. The UNFCCC recognized the advantage of involving both men and women equally in the implementation of the Paris agreement. The reason, impacts of climate has an impact on all population and mostly affects the world’s poor gender which is women. Women are more vulnerable and at a higher risk of climate impacts such as floods and poverty. The reason, women are exposed to greater levels of social, political and economic barriers, less education, little control over land and they are highly represented in the unemployed sector which involves or in agriculture that involves the use of natural resources (Olson, 2014). These barriers limit their capacity or ability to cope with the natural disasters caused by climate change. According to a report of gender analysis of gender equality in the NDCs in 2016. Only 18 out of the 43 countries included women or gender equality on their NDCs reports.
However, despite the efforts of the UNFCCC to recognize gender equality (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2019), the Paris agreement only featured the issue of gender three times. In the preamble, article 7 of adaptation and article 11 of capacity building. The preamble highlighted the importance of the consideration of the vulnerable groups affected by climate impacts (Duyck & Lador, 2016). This arose due to the different vulnerability risks of both men and women as earlier discussed. In article 7 of adaptation, paragraph 5 states that the adaptation action should follow a gender-responsive approach. With the involvement of both genders, it is easy to incorporate the most vulnerable group’s (women) knowledge and skills in the adaptation planning process other than considering the group as just helpless victims (Morgan, Nalau & Mackey, 2019).
Finally, in article 11 of capacity building, paragraph 2 states that the capacity building process should be cross-cutting, participatory and gender-responsive (Khan et al., 2016). The different education levels of both women and men influence an adaptive capacity building. The reason, it helps in comprehending the different needs of the different genders. When women are empowered, they can play a very critical role in the mitigation and adaptation activities since they are more exposed to the risks associated with climate change and therefore understand the problems better.
In the COP 21, the agreement called for all parties to include women in the addressing of climate change (Bach, 2015). It called for the parties to implement capacity building actions and equal gender-responsive actions and adaptations. It advocated for the involvement of both girls and women in the contributions of the adaptation and mitigation efforts. At the COP 22, the gender and climate issue was extended (Bager et al., 2016) and the UNFCCC developed the Lima Work Programme of Gender. The program mandated the involvement of women and the reporting by the parties on the progress made towards an equal gender perspective in their NDCs and other processes (Jorgens, Kolleck & Saerback, 2016).
The NDC parties, therefore, took on a gender mainstreaming strategy that sought to account for the impacts of climate on the lives of women as well as the role of women in climate adaptation towards a zero-emission economy (Fransen et al., 2017). Their main objective was to justify that interlinking gender equality and climate change lead to a more inclusive, rapid progress and prosperous outcome. Moreover, the countries that participated all conducted an in-depth analysis that examined the policies, coordination mechanisms, planning instruments and legal and institutional frameworks that related to gender and climate change.
MEASURES, INDCS, AND NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTIONS (NDCS) THAT PARTIES (COUNTRIES) HAVE PROPOSED TO IMPLEMENT THE PARIS AGREEMENT.
Several measures and processes have been taken to achieve these global goals. Such measures include the following:
Mitigation – the Paris agreement encouraged mitigation actions through the NDCs (Fujimori et al., 2016). The parties involved are required to present their mitigation pledges overtime through communicating what they intend to achieve as well as the mitigation measures that they have taken. The agreement provisions on mitigation efforts reflect on the importance of establishing a transparent and cleat tracking progress towards the achievement of the agreement’s goals. The mitigation approach enables effective and efficient measurement of the progress of each nation. Progress tracking is a significant development and advancement of the Copenhagen accord (Lau et al., 2012). Mitigation also includes the development of key guidelines or rules that give a clear expectation of the NDCs.
Adaptation – according to Mohner (2018), the agreement recognizes and moves away from approaches only centered on mitigation. Over the years, the party reflects on the importance of the adaptation process. At least 80 percent of NDC reports include an adaptation component. The agreement prioritizes a sustainable development through reduction of vulnerability to climate change, enhancement of adaptive capacities and strengthening resilience through its long-term goals for adaptation. Its goals for adaptation are to increase its ability to adapt to the impacts of climate/weather change fostering low emissions of greenhouse gases and climate resilience in such a manner that food production does not face any threat. The agreement, therefore, set an ambitious plan for the adaptation process. It also emphasizes on the recognition of the adaptation efforts of the developing countries (Robinson & Dornan, 2017).
Technology development and transfer – the Paris agreement recognizes the important role of technology in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The technology executive time (Obergassel et al., 2015), a body of UNFCCC is responsible for carrying out more research, deployment and enhancing endogenous technologies and capacities. The body is also responsible for scaling up the implementation of the agreement. This body should address the barriers to the development of the agreement as well as facilitate the transfer of sound technologies to all areas and especially the developing countries that are less disadvantaged in terms of technology (Rimmer, 2015). However, the technology issue advances at a very slow pace within the UNFCCC.
Financing – provision of finances is one of the core aims of the Paris agreement. Through financing, Meltzer (2016) explains that it can provide a clear direction of the climate goals towards climate-resilient developments and low greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement provides that the developed countries should offer their support to the developing countries. It also aims at creating a balance through the provision of finance between both the adaptation and the mitigation efforts. Enhancement of climate finance is critical such that, it enables the developing countries to enhance as well as fulfill their climate actions. The agreement tracks the finance provided by the donors and how the recipient utilizes the finances received (Bielenberg, 2016).
Enhancement of transparency – The agreement is set to enhance transparency and accountability. Transparency helps build confidence and trust that the action on climate change is taking place effectively (Dagnet et al., 2017). It is also important in the decision-making processes of the nations allowing them to attract greater fundings. Capacity building helps the countries maintain transparency measures in place. The agreement has continued to make progress in the creation of a more transparent approach that applies to all the parties. The transparency approach is divided into three building blocks. Facilitative considerations, technical reviews, and reporting (Winkler, Mantlana & Lelete, 2017). These pillars help the agreement build its confidence among the international stakeholders and also promote the implementation process due to its global stocktake input.
INDCs refer to each country’s climate actions in addressing climate change and reduction of emission of greenhouse gases (Levin, et al., 2015). NDCs are one of the key means for implementation of the global response to climate change that was under the Paris agreement by UNFCCC. They can also be referred to as voluntary commitments by the parties/ nations to reduce emissions. The word intended in INDC was used to communicate the proposed climate efforts before the Paris agreement was adopted. The word was later dropped and became NDC after the formalization of the Paris agreement. NDCs are presented by the parties after every year to show the progress of each country in the efforts of solving climate change. These NDCs determine whether the world is achieving its long-term goal (Hof et al., 2017). The agreement recognizes that the goal can only be met over time and hence the five-year gap for every NDC report.
Since the agreement was adopted in 2015, the parties delivered their first NDCs in December 2019 (NDC update Report December, 2019). The US submitted its NDC whose main intention was to achieve a reduction of greenhouse gas emission by 26% to 28% by the year 2025. In US, the baseline year is 2005 against which their target is measured. The US covers all of the Intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) sectors and targets all the greenhouse gases that were included in the inventory of united states greenhouse gas emissions and sinks of 2014. The US has set a quite ambitious and fare target for which it has already undertaken the necessary steps required to reduces its emissions (US cover note INDC, 2020).
China which is also among the highest greenhouse emitter also submitted its NDC report. China is experiencing rapid rates of urbanization and industrialization. The country reported that it had already taken the necessary measures in the fight against climate change (Wang & Sanchez, 2019). The baseline year for China was 2005 to which it compares its targets to. It announced its goal was to lower carbon emissions from 45% to 40% by 2020, increase the uses of non-fossil fuels by 15% and also increase the forests areas by approximately 40 million hectares. The country reported the policies that it has put in place to meet these targets such as the work plan to control greenhouses gas emissions, the comprehensive action plan for energy conversation and the national program on climate change all that were to be implemented during the 12th five-year plan period (China’s INDC, 2015).
The Republic of the Marshall Island (RMI), the leader of the G7 countries also submitted its NDC report in 2015. The baseline/reference year to which the RMI measured its target is 2010 (RMI INDC, 2015). It committed to reduces it emissions to 32% by the year 2025 and 45% by 2030. It was also committed to a target towards an absolute wide economy emission reduction that excluded the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) activities. It covered the whole country and most importantly the energy and waste sectors (Mersmann et al., 2019).
In 2019, the G7, an international organization that consists of the seven biggest and advanced economies in the world that include Germany, the UK, the US, Italy, Japan, Canada, and France. They promised to take up the leadership role. G7 leaders committed to lead the world in the implementation of climate action plans with transparency (Keohane et al., 2017). The leaders were determined to encourage efforts towards the change to an economical energy system that allowed decarbonization of the economy globally. More so, the leaders went ahead to set out a deadline to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025. The leaders’ conference promised a swift implementation process that would be successful.
The G7 conference set five priorities for the Paris agreement implementation during the conference that included;
- Climate change towards zero greenhouse gas emissions.
- Fighting inequality
The leaders released a statement that called for an effective multilateralism that would help tackle inequalities related to economic stability, growth and social cohesion.
- Gender equality
G7 leaders adopted the promotion and empowering of women especially in the developing countries to combat inequality (Kiton & Kokotsis, 2015). They set out new laws for gender equality.
- Oceans and biodiversity
The leaders adopted measures that would increase the efforts towards sustaining a healthy planet with zero biodiversity losses, zero land degradation, and zero ocean degradation.
- Africa development
Finally, the G7 leaders developed a new framework to support Africa in developing a sustainable economy (Declaration, 2015). It contributed 85 euros million to the African Development Bank.
The High Ambition Coalition, an international group that came up with emission development strategies and national climate pledges, also helped shape the Paris agreement in 2015 (Schneider & Scholar, 2017). It included countries like, Ethiopia, Fiji, Jamaica. New Zealand, Canada, Argentina, Costa Rica, the Marshall Islands, and Saint Lucia. The coalition drives climate ambition globally, climate finance as well as address the needs of the most vulnerable countries concerning climate under the leadership of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The coalition was formed during the COP 21 by both the developed countries and the developing countries.
The High Ambition Coalition was developed under three pillars that include;
- Sustainable management (Stephenson et al., 2019).
The planet should be sustainably managed to assure there is minimal loss of natural habitats and should be surrounded by a circular economy. Moreover, the planet should manage to create an equitable sharing of benefits from all nature.
- Increased funding (campaign for nature, 2019).
To manage the protection of the protected and special areas around the world, more funding from both the public and the private sectors such as corporations should be mobilized.
- Improved management of the existing protected areas.
The management of protected areas around is critical. Therefore, management in all such areas needs to be improved to attain the expected outcomes. The management should be able to offer sufficient resources and the best researches to deliver the best possible conservation outcomes.
- New spatial targets to protect biodiversity (Spalding et al., 2013).
Spatial targets on land and seas should be increased to conserve at least 30 percent of the planet effectively. Such areas should be protected, ecologically represented, well and equitably managed and well connected to help in the maintenance of species diversity.
- Implementation of the Paris agreement (Hirsch, 2016).
When are the other pillars are effectively adopted, the High Ambition Coalition ought to develop an efficient implementation mechanism. A mechanism that can be easily incorporated and enforced into the Paris development, the sustainable development goals and in the key economic sectors.
This coalition helped shape the agreement through the following: they agreed to take stock of their progress after every five years, establish a transparent system by tracking the progress of the parties to ensure efficient delivery after the five years, increase support especially to the developing countries and to the climate-vulnerable countries for them to adapt to climate changes, form efficient and effective climate policies and bring together the developed and the developing countries without negative competition amongst them. The ambitious coalition, according to a speech by the chair of the group, recognized that it could not achieve on its own without other countries (Lahn, 2018).
In conclusion, the Paris agreement has in its way provided reasons for optimism about the global negotiations of climate. The reason, it is so far the largest international agreement and it covers a wide and extraordinarily broad scope, receiving NDCs from 196 countries. Second, the party has provided a framework for the future generation through its goal of limiting the temperature rises to below 2 degrees. The future has been ensured through the progress tracking of the NDCs reported by all the involved countries after every 5 years. Lastly, the Paris agreement has reinforced other sectors such as the public and the private sectors. More so, more than 80 businesses and energy firms have also pledged in support of the agreement.
Despite the many reasons to feel pessimistic about climate change, the Paris agreement has continued to prove that all these challenges can be overcome. The agreement will continue to be viewed as a landmark of success through its efforts to mitigate the climate dangers and transform human lives as well as the economy. The agreement is a glimpse of hope especially in the developing countries who are finding ways to adapt to the adverse climate changes. The Paris agreement has motivated the world to take climate change with the seriousness it deserves. People are therefore more focused on finding solutions to tackle these problems and are more motivated to switch to renewable energy. It is a wake-up call with a sense of urgency. Experts and scientists hope that climate negotiations will help meet clean energy targets and that nations will fulfill their pledges.
The article confirms that global warming has become the major challenge being encountered by our global society. There is no doubt that climate change will affect our climate in the next decades to come in a tremendous way. The main question that every country in the globe should strive to answer is the question of what are the solutions to climate change? First, global governance must be made efficient to ensure an international political solution. Second, clean energy production plan must be implemented through continuous funding. Third, advanced technology must be adapted by all countries to help tackle climate change. Last but not least, everyone should prepare for the worst in the case where all other solutions fail through adaptation mechanism.