The Paris Agreement - What is that?

The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at 1COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016.

Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

To achieve this long-term temperature goal, countries aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible to achieve a climate-neutral world by mid-century.

The Paris Agreement is a landmark in the multilateral climate change process because, for the first time, a binding agreement brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.

How does the Paris Agreement work?

Implementation of the Paris Agreement requires economic and social transformation, based on the best available science. The Paris Agreement works on a 5- year cycle of increasingly ambitious climate action carried out by countries. By 2020, countries submit their plans for climate action known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

How are they tracking progress?

With the Paris Agreement, countries established an enhanced transparency framework (ETF). Under ETF, starting in 2024, countries will report transparently on actions taken and progress in climate change mitigation, adaptation measures and support provided or received. It also provides international procedures for the review of the submitted reports. 
 
The information gathered through the ETF will feed into the Global stocktake which will assess the collective progress towards the long-term climate goals.
 
This will lead to recommendations for countries to set more ambitious plans in the next round.

What have they achieved so far?

Although climate change action needs to be massively increased to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, the years since its entry into force have already sparked low-carbon solutions and new markets. More and more countries, regions, cities and companies are establishing carbon neutrality targets. Zero-carbon solutions are becoming competitive across economic sectors representing 25% of emissions. This trend is most noticeable in the power and transport sectors and has created many new business opportunities for early movers.
 
By 2030, zero-carbon solutions could be competitive in sectors representing over 70% of global emissions.

1What does 'COP' mean? The Conference Of the Parties.