The preamble to the Agreement states that climate change is a common concern of humankind, and when countries take action, they must respect, promote and consider their obligations on human rights, right to health, rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations, the right to development, gender equality, empowerment of women and inter-generational equity.
Developed countries would be required to raise more funds over time to help developing countries and strike a balance between their need to adapt to climate change and cut their emissions.
This equity provision is particularly aimed at the least developed countries and the small island developing states facing rising sea levels. The fund-raising nations must file a report every two years with qualitative and quantitative information, and the level of public finances to be provided, all of which will be reviewed at the global stock taking exercise.
The Paris Agreement also establishes a system of technology transfer for developing countries, through a new technology framework, for both reduction of their carbon emissions and adaptation programmes. Collaborative approaches are enabled for research and development, and facilitation of access to and transfer of technology.
Transparency, a key issue for India, has been laid down in a separate framework. It will require countries to regularly provide a standardised national inventory of man-made greenhouse gas emissions by sources and the ways in which they are being removed - such as through artificial carbon capture, and natural trapping of carbon in forests and so on. This provision, however, includes flexibility for countries based on capacity, which the first meeting of the Paris Agreement will consider. A transparent review of whether adaptation actions are adequate and effective is also part of the pact.
The Agreement was welcomed by experts on science and the economy. Nicholas Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and President of the British Academy said, “This is a historic moment...The Agreement creates enormous opportunities as countries begin to accelerate along the path towards low-carbon economic development and growth.”
“Importantly, the Agreement takes into account that current pledges for emissions limits in 2030 fall short of the collective ambition required and so it includes a commitment by countries to review every five years their efforts to reduce annual emissions of greenhouse gases and to ramp up their emissions cuts. And it recognises that that rich countries are expected to mobilise more financial support to help poor countries make the transition to a low-carbon economy and become more climate-resilient. National, and local governments, cities and businesses must now raise their efforts to match the ambition of this Agreement.”
John Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said if the agreement was implemented, it would mean “bringing down greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero within a few decades. It is in line with the scientific evidence we presented of what would have to be done to limit climate risks such as weather extremes and sea-level rise. To stabilize our climate, CO2 emissions have to peak well before 2030 and should be eliminated as soon as possible after 2050. Technologies such as bio-energy and carbon capture and storage as well as afforestation can play a role to compensate for residual emissions, but cutting CO2 is key.”