The Paris Climate Conference, also COP21, was held in early December 2015 and produced
what is widely known as the “Paris Agreement”. It has been widely celebrated as the first accomplishment among a lot of failed attempts in international climate politics.
The agreement serves as the replacement for the “1997 Kyoto Protocol”, which you read about last week. The COP21 brought together representatives from 196 countries, trying to achieve a binding treaty. A big part of the discussion was focused around the goal concerning degrees of warming compared to pre-industrial levels: While the majority of countries argued for 2°C, especially small island nations, the ones already then gravely affected by climate change, pledged for a maximum of 1,5°C warming. Ultimately, the agreement reads the goal to be “well below 2°C”. By 2050 there should also be a balance between carbon input to the atmosphere and carbon sink capacity.
(not a very gender-balanced situation...)
Further, the negotiations were trying to find a way to commit richer states to transfer more funds to less developed countries and take seriously their historical responsibility to reduce emissions more drastically. However, the negotiators agreed on no new binding commitments but referred to the compliance to already existing ones.
The final product was a non-binding agreement, however, with as many ratifications as never before, 187 by November 2019. However, immediately after Trump’s election, he announced that the United States were to leave the Paris Agreement, a decision coming into effect in November 2020.
Although this is a huge setback for the agreement, the Paris Agreement continues to present a ray of hope for the possible success of international climate negotiations.