Explained: How 2015 Paris climate pact fully functional now

COP26. (Credit : @COP26/twitter)

Glasgow, Nov 14 (IANS) After six years of strenuous negotiations and pending items that prevented the full implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement — a legally binding international treaty that was adopted by 196 nations — on carbon markets and transparency have finally been approved.

The 26th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP26) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came to an end Saturday night in this Scottish city, a day after their scheduled conclusion.

The wide-ranging set of decisions, resolutions and statements that constitute the outcome of COP26 is the fruit of intense negotiations over the past two weeks, strenuous formal and informal work over many months, and constant engagement both in-person and virtually for nearly two years, says the UNFCCC.

The package adopted is a global compromise that reflects a delicate balance between the interests and aspirations of nearly the 200 Parties to the core instruments on the international regime that governs global efforts against climate change.

Under the UK presidency and with the support of the UNFCCC Secretariat, delegates forged agreements that strengthen ambition in the three pillars of collective climate action.

Adaptation was the object of particular emphasis during the deliberations. Parties established a work programme to define the global goal on adaptation, which will identify collective needs and solutions to the climate crisis already affecting many countries.

The Santiago Network was further strengthened by elaborating its functions in support of countries to address and manage loss and damage. And the CMA approved the two registries for nationally determined contributions (NDCs), the heart of the Paris Agreement, and Adaptation Communications, which serve as channels for information flowing towards the global stocktake that is to take place every five years starting in 2023.

Finance was extensively discussed throughout the session and there was consensus in the need to continue increasing support to developing countries. The call to at least double finance for adaptation was welcomed by the 196 nations.

The duty to fulfill the pledge of providing $100 billion dollars annually from developed to developing countries was also reaffirmed. And a process to define the new global goal on finance was launched.

On mitigation, the persistent gap in emissions has been clearly identified and Parties collectively agreed to work to reduce that gap and to ensure that the world continues to advance during the present decade, so that the rise in the average temperature is limited to 1.5 degrees.

Parties are encouraged to strengthen their emissions reductions and to align their national climate action pledges with the Paris Agreement that came into force on November 4, 2016.

In addition, a key outcome is the conclusion of the so-called Paris rulebook. An agreement was reached on the fundamental norms related to Article 6 on carbon markets, which will make the Paris Agreement fully operational.

This will give certainty and predictability to both market and non-market approaches in support of mitigation as well as adaptation, says the UNFCCC.

And the negotiations on the enhanced transparency framework were also concluded, providing for agreed tables and formats to account and report for targets and emissions.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, said: “I thank the Presidency and all ministers for their tireless efforts throughout the conference and I congratulate all Parties on finalising the rulebook.

“This is an excellent achievement! It means that the Paris Agreement can now function fully for the benefit of all, now and in the future.”

Alok Sharma, UK President of COP26, said: “We can now say with credibility that we have kept 1.5 degrees alive. But, its pulse is weak and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action. I am grateful to the UNFCCC for working with us to deliver a successful COP26.”

The Glasgow Climate Pact reflects important steps that the world could not afford to avoid, responded UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner at the conclusion of COP26.

“One significant achievement is that the Paris Agreement Rulebook — the long-negotiated operational guidelines of the agreement — was adopted in Glasgowathe agreement fell short on bold and necessary actions, such as calling for an end to fossil fuels and putting a price on carbon,” he said.

The heads of state and government and the delegates who participated in COP26 brought to the conference a keen awareness of the severity of the climate crisis that the world faces and of the need to live up to the historic responsibility of setting the world on the path to address this existential challenge.

They leave Glasgow with clarity on the work that needs to be done, more robust and effective instruments to achieve it, and a heightened commitment to promote climate action — and to do so more quickly — in every area.

With 197 Parties, the UNFCCC has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep a global average temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The UNFCCC is also the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The ultimate objective of all agreements under the UNFCCC is to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a timeframe which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.

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